How to spot a liar by their eye movements

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How to spot a liar by their eye movements

One common thought is that a liar won’t be able to look you in the eye. Unfortunately, most liars have been tipped off to this idea, and you may now find that someone maintains a bit too much eye contact when lying to you. Scientists at the University of Utah have found that in some cases tracking eye movements can be more effective than using a traditional lie detector, which measures emotional response. Still, trying to tell if someone is lying based on the direction of his eyes isn’t a foolproof method.

Watch the person’s eyes as he tells you the story. If he’s telling the truth, he’s probably maintaining eye contact and occasionally looking to his left — your right — and up. If he’s lying, he’s more likely to glance to his right — your left — and up.

Ask a question about the possible lie.

Watch the eye movements after your question. If he needs to make up an answer, you’ll probably see his eyes toggle back and forth, as he accesses different parts of his brain to come up with the answer. If he simply looks up and to his left, he’s remembering something that really happened.

Interesting Info -> Lying Index -> Eye Direction & Visual Accessing Cues

Eye Direction and Lying

Eye Movement and Direction & How it Can Reveal Truth or Lies

This is a continuation of our previous article Detecting Lies. Many comments by our visitors asked about how eye direction can indicate the presence of a lie.

Can the direction a person’s eyes reveal whether or not they are making a truthful statement? Short answer: sort of. But, it isn’t as simple as some recent television shows or movies make it seem.

In these shows a detective will deduce if a person is being untruthful simply because they looked to the left or right while making a statement.

In reality, it would be foolish to make such a snap judgment without further investigation… but the technique does have some merit.

So, here it is… read, ponder and test it on your friends and family to see how reliable it is for yourself.

Visual Accessing Cues – “Lying Eyes”

The first time “Visual Accessing Cues” were discussed (at least to my knowledge), was by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in their book “Frogs into Princes: Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) ” From their experiments this is what they found.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

When asked a question a “normally organized” right-handed person looks (from your viewpoint, looking at them):

Up and to the Left Indicates: Visually Constructed Images (Vc)If you asked someone to “Imagine a purple buffalo”, this would be the direction their eyes moved in while thinking about the question as they “Visually Constructed” a purple buffalo in their mind.

Up and to the Right Indicates: Visually Remembered Images (Vr)If you asked someone to “What color was the first house you lived in?”, this would be the direction their eyes moved in while thinking about the question as they “Visually Remembered” the color of their childhood home.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

To the Left Indicates: Auditory Constructed (Ac)If you asked someone to “Try and create the highest the sound of the pitch possible in your head”, this would be the direction their eyes moved in while thinking about the question as they “Auditorily Constructed” this this sound that they have never heard of.How to spot a liar by their eye movements

To the Right Indicates: Auditory Remembered (Ar)If you asked someone to “Remember what their mother’s voice sounds like “, this would be the direction their eyes moved in while thinking about the question as they “Auditorily Remembered ” this sound.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Down and to the Left Indicates: Feeling / Kinesthetic (F)If you asked someone to “Can you remember the smell of a campfire? “, this would be the direction their eyes moved in while thinking about the question as they used recalled a smell, feeling, or taste.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Down and To the Right Indicates: Internal Dialog (Ai)This is the direction of someone eyes as they “talk to themselves”.

How this information is used to detect lies:

Example: Let’s say your child asks you for a cookie, and you ask: “Well, what did your mother say?” As they reply “Mom said… yes.”, they look to the left. This would indicate a made up answer as their eyes are showing a “constructed image or sound. Looking to the right would indicated a “remembered” voice or image, and thus would be telling the truth.

Final Notes:

*** Looking straight ahead or with eyes that are defocused/unmoving is also considered a sign of visual accessing.

*** A typical left-handed person would have the opposite meanings for their eye-directions.

*** As with other signs of lying, you should first establish and understand a persons base-behavior before concluding they are lying by the direction of their eyes.

*** Many critics believe the above is a bunch of bull***t. In my own experiments I have found these techniques to be more true than not. But, why not find out for yourself? Make up a list of questions that like the sample ones, and give them to your friends/family anyone who would be your guinea pig, observe their eye movements and record the results.

*** This guide is hardly in-depth, I recommend getting the book “Frogs into Princes: Neuro Linguistic Programming” by Richard Bandler and John Grinder for a more thorough explanation if the subject interests you.

How to spot a liar by their eye movementsContinue Reading Part 3 – Micro Expressions, Subtle Emotions & Lie DetectionContinue Reading:

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Micro Expressions and Lying (part 3) Micro Expressions betray us when we lie. We can try to cover our feelings with fake smiles, but involuntary face muscles reveal this hidden emotions. Good introduction with plenty of links and resources.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

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How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Little white lies, big ol’ whoppers of deception…they’re everywhere in our lives whether we like it or not. While you may not be able to stop them, you might be able to tell when they’re happening and act accordingly. As it turns out, there are several telltale signs that the average liar throws out there, so keep an eye open and detect deception for yourself:

Facial Signs

People may think they can conceal their emotions, but studies have proven they can’t hide everything! Experts advise paying close attention to hard-to-hide micro-expressions; these clues are often so difficult to detect that even trained experts have trouble discerning them. But you may be able to spot the more obvious ones, like reddening on the person’s cheeks, since anxiety can cause people to blush. Other indicators of lying? Flared nostrils, lip nibbling, deep breathing, and rapid blinking, which hint that the brain is working overtime.

Eye Movement

Generally, if people are thinking of visual information to answer a question, their eyes will move up. This is how they retrieve mental pictures. Most right handed people will look up and right when remembering and up and left when creating or visualizing. This is an unconscious habit, but it’s also a reliable one. Looking up and to the left doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is making something up, however. It simply means she’s searching for a mental picture.

The key in reading eye movements is the same as reading other clues. You look for what’s different. Notice when they don’t look up in the same way, or when they look up but perhaps to the other side, or when they maintain eye contact with you when they would normally do otherwise.

This bit last is an interesting point. Most people imagine that we maintain eye contact when we tell the truth and break it when we lie. Not true. The majority of people will maintain eye contact when lying, because they don’t need to retrieve information from their minds and, therefore, don’t need to move their eyes. At another level, they are eager to appear sincere, and so consciously decide to keep looking at you. The eyes are the window!

Body Language

When discerning a person’s truthfulness, it’s important to examine the person’s overall status, as there’s no one feature that’s guaranteed to give her away. Honesty is characterized by features that are in sync with one another—so besides posture, notice the fit between face, body, voice, and speech. Like an animal avoiding detection, a liar may pull his arms and legs inward or keep his movements to a minimum—anything to appear smaller. Liars often shove their hands behind their back because those fidgety fingers might give them away.


Is she just happy? Or is she lying? A smile can sometimes mask a person’s true feelings. Pay close attention to how a person smiles as well as other facial movements. You may be able to detect the emotions he or she is trying to hide—such as fear, anger, and disgust. A true smile will incorporate both a person’s lips and eyes.

Voice Pattern Cues

Although a change in voice can be the tip-off to spot a liar, experts say that to be sure, you should also pay attention to a person’s speech rate and breathing pattern—if either speeds up or slows down, chances are you’re not hearing the whole truth.

Word Cues

Liars tend to avoid exclusionary words like “but,” “nor,” “except,” and “whereas,” because they have trouble with complex thought processes. Also, they are less likely to use the words “I,” “me,” and “mine.” In their attempts to distance themselves psychologically from their tall tales, liars will tend to communicate using fewer personal pronouns. Instead, they’ll speak about themselves in the third person (“This is a girl who doesn’t like to commit”) or even truncate their language (“Nice to be here today”)—anything to give themselves psychological distance from the lie.

The Question

It’s normal for someone to look away when asked a difficult question. But when someone avoids your gaze when asked a simple question, you should probably think twice.

Sworn Statements

To sell us on the integrity of their answers, liars often use phrases emphasizing the validity of their statements, like “To tell the truth” and “To be perfectly honest.” Guess what? More often than not, these verbal tip-offs frequently invoke religion. Think of expressions like “I swear on a stack of Bibles” and “As God is my witness.” Most truthful people don’t need to go that far.

Can your eye movements reveal whether you are telling the truth or not? Some body language experts believe a person exhibits certain eye movements when lying, but others disagree.

This association between eye movements and lying first came about with the emergence of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) in 1972. NLP founders John Grinder and Richard Bandler mapped out a ‘standard eye movement’ chart (Eye Accessing Cues). This chart depicted where our eyes move in relation to our thoughts.

It is generally accepted that the left side of our brain is associated with logic and our right side with creativity. Therefore, according to NLP experts, anyone who looks left is using their logical side and those who look right are accessing a creative side. This premise has translated into logic = truth whereas creativity = lying.

They claim that when we are thinking, our eyes move as the brain accesses information. Information is stored in the brain in four different ways:

  1. Visually
  2. Auditorally
  3. Kinaesthetically
  4. Internal dialogue

According to Grinder and Bandler, depending on which of these four ways we access this information will dictate where our eyes move.

  • Up and Left: Visually remembering
  • Up and Right: Visually constructing
  • Left: Auditorally remembering
  • Right: Auditorally constructing
  • Down and Left: Internal dialogue
  • Down and Right: Kinaesthetic remembering

Eye movements when lying in more detail:

Up and Left

If someone asked you to remember your wedding dress or the first house you purchased, moving your eyes up and to the right accesses the visual remembering part of the brain.

Up and to the Right

Imagine a pig flying across the sky or cows with pink spots on them. Then your eyes would move up and to the left as you are visually constructing these images.

In order to remember your favourite song, your eyes should move to the right as it accesses the auditory remembering part of your brain.


If you were asked to imagine the lowest bass note you can think of, your eyes would move to the left as it tried to auditorily construct this sound.

Down and Left

Asked if you can remember the smell of cut grass or a bonfire, or the taste of their favourite beer, people’s eyes will typically move down and right as they recall that smell.

Down and Right

This is the direction your eyes move when you are talking to yourself or engaging in internal dialogue.

So how does this knowledge of eye movement help us in detecting someone who is lying, according to NLP experts?

Now we know what NLP experts believe regarding eye movements when lying. They say that if you ask someone a question, you can follow their eye movements and tell if someone is lying or not.

So a typically normal right-handed person should look to the left if they are recalling actual events, memories, sounds, and feelings. If they are lying, their eyes will look to the right, the creative side.

For example, you asked your partner if they stayed late at the office the previous night. If they answered “Yes, of course, I did,” and looked up and to the left, you would know they were telling the truth.

According to Grinder and Bandler, these eye movements and lying work with a normal right-handed person. Left-handed people will have opposite meanings for their eye movements.

Can you really tell if a person is lying simply by their eye movements?

Most experts, however, do not think eye movements and lying are connected. A study was conducted at the University of Hertfordshire. Volunteers were filmed and their eye movements were recorded as they either told the truth or lied.

Another group of volunteers then watched the film of the first and was asked to see if they could detect who was lying and who was telling the truth. Simply by watching their eye movements.

Prof Wiseman, a psychologist who ran the study said: “The results of the first study revealed no relationship between lying and eye movements, and the second showed that telling people about the claims made by NLP practitioners did not improve their lie detection skills.”

Further studies into eye movements and lying involved reviewing press conferences where people appealed for help with regard to missing relatives. They also studied the films of press releases where people claimed to be the victims of crimes. In some of the films, the person was lying and in other they were telling the truth. After analysing both films, no evidence of an association between eye movements and lying was detected.

Co-author of the study – Dr. Caroline Watt, from the University of Edinburgh, said: “A large percentage of the public believes that certain eye movements are a sign of lying, and this idea is even taught in organisational training courses.”

Dr. Watt believes that now is the time to discard this method of thinking and focus attention on other means of detecting liars.

Closing thoughts

Despite the above-described study debunked this method, many still believe that a person has certain eye movements when lying. However, most experts think that detecting lying is far more complicated than eye movement.

Wiseman agrees: “There are some actual cues that might indicate lying—such as being static or talking less or dropping in terms of emotionality, but I don’t think there’s any reason to keep holding onto this idea about eye movement.”

A ll human beings possess the ability to lie. And many of us do — multiple studies have suggested that, on average, Americans tell one or two lies a day. Fortunately, experts say there are ways to spot signs of untruthfulness.

To identify a fib, you first have to have a baseline for how someone acts when they’re being honest, says Traci Brown, body language expert and author of How to Detect Lies, Fraud and Identity Theft: Field Guide. For example, watch how someone responds to a basic question such as, “Where are you from?” Where do their eyes go? How does their voice sound?

Once you’ve established that baseline, look for shifts in behavior in four different categories: bodily movements, facial expressions, tone of voice and content of speech, says Dr. Lillian Glass, author of The Body Language of Liars. “Those are the codes of communication,” she says.

The signs however, aren’t foolproof — if someone is uncomfortable in their seat, they may fidget; if someone is nervous, their voice may crack.

“There is debate within the healthcare community, and certainly in the area of mental health, about what are reliable body language tips that can possibly indicate that someone is lying,” says Dr. Gary Brown, a licensed family and marriage therapist based in Los Angeles. Our own perceptions can impede our ability to correctly interpret the signs, adds Dr. Jenny Taitz, a Los Angeles-based clinical psychologist. “It can be tough to accurately interpret someone through their body language since someone may feel tense or look uneasy for so many reasons,” she says. “For example, it’s easy to imagine shirking eye contact, as people often associate with lying, for any number of reasons from feeling socially anxious to bored to ashamed because you know you’re lying. We’re not always as adept at reading others as we assume.”

Still, there are signals that vetted body language experts suggest keeping an eye out for.

Body Cues

The hands: Liars tend to use gestures with their hands after they speak as opposed to during or before a conversation, says Traci Brown, who has participated in a deception training program with members of the FBI and occasionally helps work on investigations. “The mind is doing too many things including making up the story, figuring out if they’re being believed and adding to the story accordingly,” she says. “So normal gesturing that might normally happen just before a statement happens after the statement.”

A 2015 study conducted by the University of Michigan looked at 120 media clips of high-stakes court cases in order to understand how people behave when lying versus when they’re being truthful. The study found that those who lie are more likely to gesture with both of their hands than those who are telling the truth — people gestured with both of their hands in 40% of the lying clips, compared to 25% of the truthful clips.

When people are being dishonest, they also tend to face their palms away from you, says Traci Brown, who regularly gives keynote speeches at financial institutions to help them detect and prevent fraud. It’s an unconscious signal that they’re holding back information, emotions or even lying, she says. “They may put them in their pockets or even slide them under the table.”

Itching and fidgeting: Rocking the body back and forth, cocking the head to the side or shuffling the feet can also be signs of deception, says Glass, who completed a post-doctoral fellowship at UCLA focusing on Psychology and Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication. Fluctuations in the autonomic nervous system, which regulates bodily functions, can also have an effect, she says. When people are nervous, these fluctuations in the nervous system can prompt people to feel itches or tingles in their body, which in turn can cause more fidgeting, she explains.

Research conducted by UCLA psychology professor R. Edward Geiselman drew a similar conclusion, finding that people tend to display “grooming behaviors,” such as playing with their hair, when being dishonest.

Facial Cues

The eyes: Someone who is lying might stare or look away at a crucial moment, says Glass — a possible sign they’re moving their eyes around as they try to think about what to say next.

The research conducted by Geiselman at UCLA corroborated this, finding that people sometimes look away briefly when lying. The 2015 study conducted by the University of Michigan also found that those who lied were more likely to stare than those who were truthful — so much so that 70% of the clips of people lying showed them staring directly at the people they were lying to.

There is still some debate over this, however. A 2012 study published in Plos One debunked the concept that people look in a specific direction when they are dishonest. And while there is a possibility of reading too much into someone’s mannerisms, Glass maintains that there is some truth to be gleamed from the eyes.

The mouth: Rolling the lips back to the point where they almost disappear could be a sign someone is lying by omission, according to Traci Brown. “It’s been my experience that, when people do that, they’re holding back emotions or facts,” she says.

The research conducted at UCLA found that people who lie are more likely to purse their lips when asked sensitive questions. Pursing the lips could also mean someone doesn’t want to engage in the conversation at hand, says Glass. “It’s an instinctive reflex meaning you don’t want to speak,” she says.

Change in complexion: Ever notice someone go white as a ghost when speaking? That could be a sign of untruthfulness, says Glass, who says this signals blood rushing out of the face.

Sweating or dryness: Autonomic nervous system changes can trigger liars to sweat in the T-area of the face (upper lip, forehead, chin and around the mouth) or have dryness in the mouth and eyes — the person might excessively blink or squint, lick or bite their lips or swallow hard, according to Glass.

Tone of Voice

A high-pitched voice: When people are nervous, the muscles in the vocal cords might tighten up (an instinctive response to stress), leading the voice to sound very high-pitched, says Glass. You might also notice a creak in someone’s voice. Clearing the throat, a means of coping with the discomfort of the tightened muscles, can also at times signal dishonesty, she says.

A sudden change of volume: People who fib also tend to raise their voices, says Glass. “Sometimes you’ll get louder because you’ll get defensive,” she adds.

Content of Speech

Phrases such as ‘I want to be honest with you,’ ‘honestly’ or ‘let me tell you the truth’: These can be signs someone may be trying a little too hard to convince you of their honesty, according to Glass.

Using words such as, ‘uh,’ ‘like’ and ‘um’: The research conducted at the University of Michigan found “speaking with more vocal fill” to be a common indicator of deception. Glass says that people tend to use these words more when they’re trying to buy time to figure out what they’re going to say next.

Slip-ups: Most of us are not natural-born liars, Glass notes. So sometimes, we let the truth slip out. Notice someone saying things like, “I was fired — no, wait, I mean I quit” or “I was out to dinner with So-and-So — wait actually, I was working late.” You might have a liar on your hands, she says.

By Natalie Wolchover published 11 July 12

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Conventional wisdom has it that when people talk, the direction of their eye movements reveals whether or not they’re lying. A glance up and to the left supposedly means a person is telling the truth, whereas a glance to the upper right signals deceit. However, new research thoroughly debunks these notions. As it turns out, you can’t smell a liar by where he looks.

Researchers in the United Kingdom investigated the alleged correlation between eye direction and lying after realizing it was being taught in behavioral training courses, seminars and on the Web without the support of a shred of scientific evidence. The idea has its roots in a largely discredited 1970s theory called Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), a set of techniques intended to help people master social interactions.

In one experiment, the scientists monitored the leftward and rightward glances of 32 study participants as they told a mix of truths and falsehoods. The participants — all of whom were right-handed, in case eye movements are reversed in lefties — were equally likely to glance upward and to the right and upward and to the left, regardless of whether they were lying or telling the truth.

In a second experiment, the researchers found that a group of 25 participants who were informed of the alleged relationship between eye movements and lying were no better at detecting lies than a second group of 25 participants who were not taught the rule of thumb. [How to Pass a Lie Detector Test]

Finally, in a third experiment, the researchers investigated a video archive of 52 individuals making public pleas on behalf of missing relatives, half of whom are known to have been lying (based on the outcomes of the cases) and the other half, found to have been telling the truth. When the researchers tallied the number of upper-left and upper-right glances among the speakers, there was, again, no difference between the directions of the liars’ and truth-tellers’ eye movements.

“Our research provides no support for the idea [that certain eye movements are a sign of lying] and so suggests that it is time to abandon this approach to detecting deceit,” said study co-author Caroline Watt of the University of Edinburgh in a press release.

The researchers have detailed their findings in a new paper published today (July 11) in the journal PLoS ONE.

Follow Natalie Wolchover on Twitter @nattyover. Follow Life’s Little Mysteries on Twitter @llmysteries, then join us on Facebook.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Natalie Wolchover was a staff writer for Live Science from 2010 to 2012 and is currently a senior physics writer and editor for Quanta Magazine. She holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Tufts University and has studied physics at the University of California, Berkeley. Along with the staff of Quanta, Wolchover won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory writing for her work on the building of the James Webb Space Telescope. Her work has also appeared in the The Best American Science and Nature Writing and The Best Writing on Mathematics, Nature, The New Yorker and Popular Science. She was the 2016 winner of the Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award, an annual prize for young science journalists, as well as the winner of the 2017 Science Communication Award for the American Institute of Physics.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

You might expect a liar to struggle with eye contact, when lying through his teeth. But a study by University of Michigan researchers suggests that liars may look their questioners in the eye more often than people telling the truth. People who are lying also wave both hands around far more than those who are being honest.

The researchers studied 118 video clips to establish the language and gestures used by people being dishonest, including testimonies from the Innocence Project, a non-profit that the handles legal cases of innocent people falsely imprisoned. Around half the clips came from trial footage, while the other half focused on YouTube videos asking interviewees their opinion on films. Researchers established who was lying by the trial verdict (with the exception of the Innocence Project clips), and when interviewees were asked their opinions on films that didn’t exist.

Those who were lying were found more likely to have animated hand movements, make strong eye contact, nod their heads, and scowl.

When researchers transcribed the audio, they also found that liars were more likely to say “um” and to use pronouns that distanced themselves from the action, such as “he” or “she” rather than “I” or “we.”

The same gestures were also used by some people telling the truth, but to a lesser extent: 25% of truthful people gestured with both hands, compared to 40% of liars. Sixty percent of truthful people looked directly at the questioner, compared to 70% of liars.

The real world nature of the footage was important to the study said Rada Mihalcea, professor of computer science and engineering who co-led the project, in a statement. She added:

“In laboratory experiments, it’s difficult to create a setting that motivates people to truly lie. The stakes are not high enough. We can offer a reward if people can lie well—pay them to convince another person that something false is true. But in the real world there is true motivation to deceive.”

When the researchers compiled all the data into machine-learning software, the computer was 75% accurate at identifying who was lying. Humans only guessed right 50% of the time.

The paper was presented at the International Conference on Multimodal Interaction, which has a peer-reviewed selection process, in November and is published in the 2015 conference proceedings.

The researchers believe their work could be useful for security agents and juries, but of course it’s far from foolproof. It’s also impossible to know for sure whether the courtroom verdicts are right, and if the “liars” being examined are definitely being dishonest. This is a problem for all lie detection; Polygraph tests, which measure stress in response to questions, have similarly variable results. Though they have roughly 85% accuracy when testing guilty people, some polygraph tests have just 56% accuracy for innocent people.

The truth is, we all behave slightly differently when we’re dishonest, and there’s no definitive telltale sign that unmasks all liars. But the University of Michigan research can help build a picture of dishonesty. And, as Mihalcea points out, the software is certainly better than humans at picking up on falsehoods.

Just about everyone you know tells low-stakes lies, but some people even go so far as to lie about important matters that could forever change their relationships, end their employment, or even send them to jail.

Detecting high-stakes liars is often the work of the FBI, and they frequently look to facial expressions, body language, and verbal indicators as signals, or “tells,” that someone is lying.

Mark Bouton, an FBI agent for 30 years and author of “How to Spot Lies Like the FBI,” tells Business Insider that he used certain tells to help identify Timothy McVeigh as a suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing. But being able to read facial expressions to detect lies can be beneficial even if you’re not conducting criminal investigations, he says.

“There are a number of facial expressions and associated reactions that could indicate someone is lying to you,” he says. “Some are caused by nervousness, some by chemical reactions, and others by physical reactions.”

To start, he says it’s important to understand how the person in question normally acts.

“It’s best to observe someone for a while as you make small talk or ask innocuous questions, in order to see what his usual reactions are, including tics he may have,” he says. “Then if he exhibits several lying indicators when you ask more pointed or suggestive questions, and these are not ones he previously performed, you can be confident that he’s likely lying.”

Here are some things you can do to tell if someone’s lying:

Look away from this screen and try to remember the sound of your childhood hero’s voice. Did you do it? Do it again, and this time pay attention to your eyes.

There’s a good chance your eyes stayed centered as you decided on who your hero was, moved slightly up and to your left when you visualized them, and then moved slightly down and to your right when you imagined their voice.

I know this not because I’ve hacked your webcam, but because your eye movements are intimately tied to certain areas of your brain. Let’s use this fact, along with our previous tips on spotting liars, to access other people’s thoughts.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Practice on Yourself First

Before going into any details, test your own eyes and get an understanding of how they’re connected to your thoughts. Address the following and take note of even the slightest eye movements up, down, or to the side.

  1. What did your worst haircut look like?
  2. What will your city look like in twenty years?
  3. What’s the most annoying ’80s song and how does it sound?
  4. Write a jingle in your head.
  5. Have a short conversation with yourself.
  6. Imagine the feeling of a warm bed on a cold day.

The first two questions likely sent your eyes upwards, while questions three and four moved them to the side, and the last two cast your eyes downward.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

#1. Upper Left – Visual Memory

Unless the memory is immediately available, someone’s eyes looking to their upper left tells you that they are accessing an image of something from the past. This is a familiar position for those who are visual learners and rely on a visual memory.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

#2. Upper Right – Visual Construction

Eyes looking up and to the right indicate that the person is constructing a visual image in their mind. People who are lying will look in this direction as they fabricate mental images. Of course, Samuel L. Jackson explains it best.

#3. Lateral Left – Sound Memory

When your dad tries to remember the punchline of a terrible joke, his eyes are probably looking to his lateral right. This direction indicates that a person is trying to recall a sound from the past.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

You can use this to assess whether or not someone is reciting lines when they claim to be sincere. Children often look in this direction, for example, when they’re repeating the political and religious rhetoric of their parents.

#4. Lateral Right – Sound Construction

If someone is lying about a conversation they claim to have had, they’ll look to their lateral left. This direction indicates the creation of sound.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

#5. Lower Left – Inner Dialogue

The devil isn’t really on your shoulder, he’s on your left collarbone. If someone is having an internal debate, they’ll likely glance to their lower left. This area indicates a person is deep in thought or questioning.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

#6. Lower Right – Kinesthetic/Feeling

Remembering the feeling of something will push our eyes to our right. Don’t believe me? While your eyes are closed, move them to the upper left and try to imagine the feeling of fur. The try it with your eyes to the lower right. Which one feels less awkward?

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

The Potential Complications

Obviously this method of prediction is not foolproof. Eyes are rarely held static in one position. Environmental stimuli like noise and light will influence the direction of eye movement, as will the pressure to maintain steady eye contact in a conversation. Instead, look for repeated “flickering” to any side.

Preferred Representational Systems

Every individual has a preferred way of representing information in their mind, which will influence the direction of their eyes. Some prefer visual images and others prefer sound.

If you ask someone to describe what they saw, for example, they will access their memory of the image (eyes to their upper left), but may also construct a description of the image in their head (eyes to the lateral right).

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How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Samantha Lee/Business Insider

Detecting high-stakes liars is often the work of the FBI, and they frequently look to facial expressions, body language, and verbal indicators as signals, or “tells,” that someone is lying.

Mark Bouton, an FBI agent for 30 years and author of “How to Spot Lies Like the FBI,” tells Business Insider that he used certain tells to help identify Timothy McVeigh as a suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing. But being able to read facial expressions to detect lies can be beneficial even if you’re not conducting criminal investigations, he says.

“There are a number of facial expressions and associated reactions that could indicate someone is lying to you,” he says. “Some are caused by nervousness, some by chemical reactions, and others by physical reactions.”

To start, he says it’s important to understand how the person in question normally acts.

“It’s best to observe someone for a while as you make small talk or ask innocuous questions, in order to see what his usual reactions are, including tics he may have,” he says. “Then if he exhibits several lying indicators when you ask more pointed or suggestive questions, and these are not ones he previously performed, you can be confident that he’s likely lying.”

Here are some of the facial expressions Bouton suggests looking out for:

How to spot a liar by their eye movementsWhen interpreting the body language of a liar, you should rely on signs that are not under his cautious control, for example, gestures and signs that happen automatically. In the liar’s case, the least reliable signs are the those that he has the most control over, like his words or exposing his palms; exposing palms generally means openness, but in this case can be easily faked.

A small child will instinctively cover her mouth when lying. If she hears something she doesn’t like to hear, she will just cover her ears as if she is trying to block out the sound. If she sees something she doesn’t want to see, she would cover her eyes. As she gets older, the face touching gestures become quicker and subtler but do not disappear altogether.

Face touching gestures will still be there when lying, covering up for someone, exaggerating, doubting or even being uncertain. Increased swallowing of saliva is another automatic gesture that is often displayed when lying, but it is usually more noticeable with men than with women.

In addition, separate gesture should not be interpreted without considering other signs that are displayed at the same time, and circumstances under which it is happening taken into consideration. The reason for that, is that one and the same gesture could mean different things at different times. For example, scratching the head can mean forgetfulness or lying, but it could also mean dandruff.

Similarly to that, the face touching gesture is not always associated with the body language of a liar; it could simply mean that the person is just holding back some information. Observing subsequent movements and signs could confirm or deny your suspicions.

What makes you the way you are? Take THIS TEST to discover your personality type.

Despite the fact that we use our faces to cover up lies and our genuine emotions more than any other body part, they still continuously reveal our true feelings and attitudes without us being aware of it. If you are trying to conceal a lie, or a certain unpleasant thought flashes into your mind, the evidence will be displayed on your face even if just for a split second.

One perfect example – if you are at a job interview and you are asked about your relationship with the previous boss, one that you truly hated, but you still insist that the relationship was great, and you only left the job just because you wanted to have better options for your future, your face will likely display a sneer, if only for a split second.

This kind of body language happens unconsciously and usually goes unnoticed unless the person who is talking to you is highly perceptive to body language. If he is, he will see the contradiction between your verbal and non-verbal signals, and since non-verbal signals have five times more impact than the verbal ones, he is unlikely to believe you.

Lying is not an easy thing to do, because your subconscious mind automatically sends signals that are perceived as the body language of a liar. They contradict what you are saying, and make your words hard to believe to whoever may be listening. These signals include dilation and contraction of the pupils, sweating, increased swallowing of saliva, twitching of facial muscles, flushes and increased eye-blinking. It could take a split second only, but professional interviewers, sales people and simply perceptive individuals can and do notice these contradictions.

This fact of the matter is, this is most obvious with those who do not usually lie because they didn’t refine their body language as “professional” liars do, like actors for example. Professional liars pay attention to how it feels when they say a lie, then work on reducing gesturing altogether. The movements become so refined that it becomes extremely difficult to detect lies in these people.

How to Detect Lies

Become a Human Lie Detector (Part 1)

Warning: sometimes ignorance is bliss. After gaining this knowledge, you may be hurt when it is obvious that someone is lying to you. The following deception detection techniques are used by police, forensic psychologists, security experts and other investigators.

Introduction to Detecting Lies:

This knowledge is also useful for managers, employers, and for anyone to use in everyday situations where telling the truth from a lie can help prevent you from being a victim of fraud/scams and other deceptions.

This is just a basic run down of physical (body language) gestures and verbal cues that may indicate someone is being untruthful. Remember: these signs don’t indicate someone is lying, just that they are more likely to be lying.

If you got here from somewhere else, be sure to check out our Lie Detection index page for more info including new research in the field of forensic psychology. Last update: April 10th, 2013.

Signs of Deception:

Body Language of Lies:

• Physical expression will be limited and stiff, with few arm and hand movements. Hand, arm and leg movement are toward their own body the liar takes up less space.

• A person who is lying to you will avoid making eye contact.

• Hands touching their face, throat & mouth. Touching or scratching the nose or behind their ear. Not likely to touch his chest/heart with an open hand.

Emotional Gestures & Contradiction

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

• Timing and duration of emotional gestures and emotions are off a normal pace. The display of emotion is delayed, stays longer it would naturally, then stops suddenly.

• Timing is off between emotions gestures/expressions and words. Example: Someone says “I love it!” when receiving a gift, and then smile after making that statement, rather then at the same time the statement is made.

• Gestures/expressions don’t match the verbal statement, such as frowning when saying “I love you.”

• Expressions are limited to mouth movements when someone is faking emotions (like happy, surprised, sad, awe, )instead of the whole face. For example; when someone smiles naturally their whole face is involved: jaw/cheek movement, eyes and forehead push down, etc.

Interactions and Reactions

• A guilty person gets defensive. An innocent person will often go on the offensive.

• A liar is uncomfortable facing his questioner/accuser and may turn his head or body away.

• A liar might unconsciously place objects (book, coffee cup, etc.) between themselves and you.

Verbal Context and Content

• A liar will use your words to make answer a question. When asked, “Did you eat the last cookie?” The liar answers, “No, I did not eat the last cookie.”

•A statement with a contraction is more likely to be truthful: “ I didn’t do it” instead of “I did not do it”

• Liars sometimes avoid “lying” by not making direct statements. They imply answers instead of denying something directly.

• The guilty person may speak more than natural, adding unnecessary details to convince you… they are not comfortable with silence or pauses in the conversation. • A liar may leave out pronouns and speak in a monotonous tone. When a truthful statement is made the pronoun is emphasized as much or more than the rest of the words in a statement.

• Words may be garbled and spoken softly, and syntax and grammar may be off. In other words, his sentences will likely be muddled rather than emphasized.

• The use of distancing language. How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Also see our article on Statement Analysis for a more in-depth look at word analysis techniques used by interrogators.

Other signs of a lie:

• If you believe someone is lying, then change subject of a conversation quickly, a liar follows along willingly and becomes more relaxed. The guilty wants the subject changed; an innocent person may be confused by the sudden change in topics and will want to back to the previous subject.

• Using humor or sarcasm to avoid a subject.

Final Notes:

Obviously, just because someone exhibits one or more of these signs does not make them a liar. The above behaviors should be compared to a persons base (normal) behavior whenever possible.

Most lie detecting experts agree that a combination of body language and other cues must be used to make an educated guess on whether someone is telling the truth or a lie.

How to spot a liar by their eye movementsContinue Reading Part 2 – Eye Direction & LiesContinue Reading:

Eye Movement and Lying (Lie Detection Part 2) How to tell if someone is lying based on the movements of their eyes. Read the research behind this theory of eye direction and what it can reveal about our inner state of mind.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Lying Resources, Books & Links (Lie Detection Index Page) Index to all of our lying resource pages, along with additional links, research, videos and books. Start here if you are new to this site. New: Why Do People Lie?

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How to spot a liar by their eye movements

If only we could just enter somebody’s mind and read his thoughts, life would have been much more easier. There would have been no lies and deceit in this world. Though entering somebody’s mind and reading his thoughts is restricted to fantasies as of now, you can very well read a person’s body language in order to determine if the person is lying. Understanding how to spot a liar on the basis of his body language can turn out to be a boon for you in various walks of life, including relationships and business. Read more on why do people lie.

How to Spot a Liar: Body Language
Liars are insecure, and that is exactly what their body language shows. These people are threatened by the simple fact that their lie can be caught by people with whom they are interacting. The key to spot a liar is the combination of good observational skills with equally good analytical skills.

  • Confident people sport an upright posture, with shoulders at the back, while those not so confident are more often seen in a hunched position, with their hands in their pocket or behind. Most of the times, their movements seem to be restricted and artificial. A liar seldom uses his hand to create gestures.
  • Like artificial movements of various parts of the body, the person will also display a range of ‘fake’ expressions. It is easy to identify these fake expressions when observed properly. Studies have revealed that more muscles in the face are used when smiling genuinely, than the number of muscles used when giving a fake smile.
  • These people tend to avoid eye contact as much as possible. It’s the feeling of insecurity in them which makes them avoid a gaze. When a person lies, his pupils tend to dilate owing to the adrenaline rush in the body. This may not be observed in terms of minor lies, but when it comes to some major instance this is quite an effective method to spot a liar.
  • When a person is lying, he touches his face time and again, especially the area around his mouth. Psychiatrists believe that touching your face in a bid to hide your mouth when lying is a common trait which children develop at an early age, and continue in their adulthood, though with minor variations.
  • The liar may even use some objects in his hand to hide his face, either totally or partially. For instance, when sitting across the table the person who is lying will use the cup of coffee to hide his mouth by holding it in front of his face while talking.
  • A liar will often resort to indirect answers to save himself from being caught. His body language as well as vocabulary skills will be full of mistakes. There would be multiple thoughts running across his mind at a given point of time, which will in turn make him more vulnerable to mistakes.
  • A clean person, when accused, is bound to retaliate and prove his innocence, while a person who is lying will be quite happy with the fact that the topic has been changed. When on the verge of being caught, lairs suddenly become sarcastic, basically with the intention of laughing the subject off before it becomes serious.

One should also make a note of the fact that some of these signs of lying mentioned here are similar to signs of confusion, and therefore there are significant chances that one may misunderstand a confused person for being a liar. Owing to this one has to be a bit careful with the proceedings, especially when there is lack of evidence.

How to Spot a Liar on the Phone
The above mentioned information about how to identify a liar on the basis of his body language can be useful when the person is physically present in front of you, but what if the person is lying while talking on the phone. It is not at all difficult to determine whether a person is lying while being in conversation on the phone. In fact, some of the points mentioned above will come to your rescue on the phone as well. To spot a liar on the phone you will have to keep a track of changes in the person’s pattern of speech. Most of the times, the speech of a person lying will be characterized by long pauses, grammatical mistakes, silly confusions etc. Change of the topic will be welcomed by a liar as this will help him in escaping. Even the pattern of speech will ease down from nervousness when you change the topic. The normal tendency of a liar is to blame his misdeeds on someone else, and this will itself show in his conversation.

You should also go through:

These were some of the most prominent characteristic traits of a liar, which were provided with the intention of making you well versed about how to spot a liar on the basis of body language. In the course of time however, pathological liars have become well versed with their expressions, thus making these ways to spot a liar even more difficult. These people have adapted themselves to lying, while ensuring that their body language reveals the least about their intentions. For instance, some people look right into your eyes when lying, contrary to the popular belief that people avoid your gaze when lying. In such circumstances, practice and identifying the combination of signs demonstrated by the individual can come to your rescue in terms of spotting a liar.

By Abhijit Naik
Published: 3/3/2010How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Lie detection and eye movements: How to spot a liar with this in-depth analysis of eye movement

Kaizen, Philippe

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

This specific ISBN edition is currently not available.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Lie detection and eye-movements by Philippe Kaizen

Learn how to spot a liar with this in-depth analysis of eye-movements.

Author’s note: This book is preferentially directed towards those who already possess a certain expertise in lie detection.

This is not an obligation but this book explores the subject of eye movement in lie detection more intensively.

This book will benefit you with a precise awareness in eye movement, directly ensued from my professional experience acquired during numerous interrogations.

Here’s what you will get in this e-book:

  • The fundamentals of eye-movements in the field of lie detection
  • The inverted eye-movement
  • Lowering or fixing the gaze when lying
  • How to Fake eye-movement deliberately. Yes it is possible.

As you will see in this e-book, eye-movements and lie detection are far from what we may find in TV series where the hero would evidently declare: “look, he is looking to his right, therefore he is a liar!”

So, you want to know more ? Scroll to the top and click the Buy button for instant download

I wish you an nice reading.

Philippe Kaizen.

“synopsis” may belong to another edition of this title.

(No Available Copies)

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It’s important to know when someone is lying to you, especially in relationships.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic trick you can use to figure out when a person is lying. But if you pay attention to certain body language clues, you can come pretty close.

To find out what those clues are, INSIDER spoke to body language experts Tonya Reiman and Patti Wood.

Although no one tip will work in every instance — as Wood put it, “body language just isn’t as simple as some people would like it to be” — there are some consistent clues that indicate someone is lying.

Here are 10 signs someone could be lying based solely on their body language.

1. A departure from their normal body language.

If you’re trying to analyze a person’s body language, you first need to acquaint yourself with their typical mannerisms. This is called “baselining,” and it’s essential to determining if someone is lying.

“Everything from the handshake to the way someone stands reveals who he is. In other words, when you baseline someone, you detect their deceit signals by first detecting their truth signals,” Reiman told INSIDER.

“Everyone has a baseline of what their norm is,” Wood told INSIDER. “Some people are constantly adjusting their clothing, and fidgeting, and for them, that’s their normal. So what you’re looking for is switches from somebody’s normal behavior.”

Obviously, there are a few reasons why someone might be acting slightly different than usual, and they don’t all necessarily indicate that a person is lying. Still, it can’t hurt to unleash your inner Sherlock and pay close attention to how someone’s behavior might differ from their “baseline.”

The direction of eye movements may not indicate lying, says new research.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

July 12, 2012— — Your eyes may not say it all when it comes to lying, according to a new study.

Despite the common belief that shifty eyes — moving up and to the right — indicate deception, researchers found no connection between where the eyes move and whether a person is telling the truth.

In three separate experiments, they tested whether people who lied tended to move their eyes up and to the right, more than people who were not lying. They found no association between which direction the eyes moved and whether participants were telling the truth.

“This is in line with findings from a considerable amount of previous work showing that facial clues (including eye movements) are poor indicators of deception,” wrote the authors, led by Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. The study is published in the online journal PLoS ONE.

Howard Ehrlichman, a professor emeritus of psychology at Queens College of the City University of New York, has done considerable research on eye movements, and said he also never found any link between the direction of eye movements and lying.

“This does not mean that the eyes don’t tell us anything about what people are thinking,” he said. “I found that while the direction of eye movements wasn’t related to anything, whether people actually made eye movements or not was related to aspects of things going on in their mind.”

He said that people tend to make eye movements — about one per second on average — when they are retrieving information from their long-term memory.

“If there’s no eye movement during a television interview, I’m convinced that the person has rehearsed or repeated what they are going to say many times and don’t have to search for the answer in their long-term memories.”

He said he’s not sure where the notion about directionality of eye movement and lying came from, but said it has spread despite little scientific evidence for it.

The study authors attribute part of the popularity of the belief that looking up to the right indicates lying while looking up to the left indicates truthfulness to many practitioners of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). NLP — controversial among scientists — is a therapy approach that revolves around the connection between neurological processes, language and behavior.

“Many NLP practitioners claim that a person’s eye movements can reveal a useful insight into whether they are lying or telling the truth,” they wrote.

Some NLP practitioners dispute this assertion.

“We don’t believe that eye movements are an indication of lying and have never taught it as such. I believe that someone started the idea as a marketing ploy. Perhaps they really believed it,” said Steven Leeds, a co-director of the NLP Training Center of New York. “Eye movements, as we teach it, indicate how a person is processing information, whether it be visual, auditory, or kinesthetic, and whether is remembered or created.”

Others say they believe that the direction of eye movements can give away a liar.

Donald Sanborn is president of Credibility Assessment Technologies, a company that specializes in lie detection technology, recently licensed new technology — called ocular-motor detection testing — based on research done by psychologists from the University of Utah that utilizes a combination of eye tracking and other variables to determine whether a person is lying.

“When a person is lying, their emotional load goes up, which causes changes in pupil diameter and gaze position,” said Sanborn. The device also measures how long it takes to read and answer certain questions. Pupil size, gaze position and the length of time it takes to respond to questions reflect that the brain is working harder, which the psychologists determined is a sign of lying.

This device is designed to be used for pre-employment screening, but it is not legal for use by private companies, so the company is working with the U.S. government and with foreign firms. He estimates its accuracy to be around 85 to 87 percent.

But the authors of the new study said their work offers proof that no relationship exists between the direction of eye movements and truthfulness.

“Future research could focus on why the belief has become so widespread,” they wrote.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Do you want to spot a lie of your boy-friend or girl-friend or do you want to catch mischievous lies of your employers? Spotting a lie sometimes becomes difficult. Some people are natural liars. They can fake it up genuinely and con you in believing them. However, it is not impossible to spot a liar. The simple technique is to understand few basic methodologies of human psychology. According to research performed by forensic psychologists in California, the trick to detect a liar is to understand psychology of people. Their behavioural patterns and body language helps to do the job. Every liar has certain form of changes in their behaviour. If these are noticed, then it is much an easy task.

How do you spot a liar?

The first thing we notice when we talk to a person is eye contact. If the person does not make a confident eye contact, then there are chances of person lying. Confidence symbolises truth and person who refuses to have direct eye contact, has something to hide. Our golden age poets have always referred “eyes as windows to soul”. Hence, the first indication of a person speaking a lie is absence of eye contact.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Secondly, when a person is lying, they tend to remember something or make up the stories. You can easily notice the eye expressions of a person.

The other important observation related to eyes is that eye flutter; this happens more rapidly than usual or a person who is lying closes eye lids for more time than normal blinking of eyes. Although these patterns may change from person to person and with situations, these are few of the noticeable changes which can be made related to spotting liars through eye movements. These symbols may act handy as a lie detector tests.

Another important behavioural pattern which we can notice while speaking to a person is head movement. A person’s head movement symbolises many things. Head movement symbols are considered as a serious mode of expressions in many countries. Hence, if a person is not able to answer a direct question without proper head movement, then that person is probably lying to you.

The other behaviour which can be detected easily isthe breathing pattern of a person changes. If a person is not a usual liar, then the breathing pattern of a person changes randomly. The breathing might be heavy or unusual. It is said to be caused by the reflex action of the body. As an effect to this change in breathing pattern, the voice of the person may turn shallow and change in posture of shoulders. These are the signs which are often observed when an individual gets nervous or anxious. Although there are many more psychological patterns, these are few of them.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Unless you’re dealing with a pro, spotting a liar could be a lot easier than you think. They say the eyes are the window to the soul; they’re also a window to the lying soul. Our body language says about us much more than we can ever imagine. No matter how hard you try to master a lie, someone is bound to spot it eventually and you deservedly earn yourself the title of a “Big Fat Liar”!! As the popular Egyptian proverb advocates: “el kezb maloosh reglein”! Here are some tips on how to nail that pathetic liar in the room:

-Too much or too little eye contact

Liars can’t make direct eye contact when they lie; they either keep looking around, or look at your third eye (the place between your eye). It’s easier for them to read your facial expressions without actually staring at your eyes so you don’t notice that they’re lying. No eye contact or forced eye contact probably means the person before you could be lying.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

-Where the eye is pointing

The eye movement is very uncontrollable, unless well practiced. Looking up and left usually means they’re thinking of a virtual lie; sideway to the left means they’re thinking of a verbal lie.

-Leaving the big picture and focusing on details

Details are important in storytelling, but too much details might be a problem. This usually happens when someone is making up a story. They think if they mention a lot of details that adds nothing to the story, it makes them more credible. They’ll also talk over you if you try to skip the details.


Lying makes us nervous; fidgeting and moving restlessly is very common. Some other common body movements include overusing the hands while explaining, touching the head, hiding the eyes, moving the feet, blinking a lot, touching the nose and breathing through the mouth.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

-Mention that they’re saying the truth

Saying things like Walahy, makdebsh 3aleek, sada2ny, hagdeb 3aleek leh?, etc.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

-Getting defensive when asked questions

This is purely the saying of “el 3ala raso bat7a”. They think you’re doubting them when you ask questions and immediately start getting defensive.

-Can’t retell a small part of the story

They can’t say the lie backwards; they have to repeat the whole story over again. “7afez msh fahem”. And they’ll start talking over you and affirm everything again when you ask.

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How to spot a liar by their eye movements

How do you spot a lie? It’s all to do with the ‘blinking’ obvious .

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Clinton denied that he had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinksy – but did his blinking betray him?

If you want to know if someone is telling the truth, keep an eye on the eyes.

Liars blink in different ways during and after a falsehood, researchers claim.

They blink less than normal during the lie, and then have a flurry up to eight times faster than usual afterwards.

‘It is striking what different patterns in eye blinks emerged for liars and truth tellers,’ said Dr Sharon Leal, co-author of the study at Portsmouth University.

‘Such striking differences in behaviour between liars and truth tellers are rarely seen in deception research.’

The psychologists say that the discovery, reported in the Journal of Non-verbal Behaviour, means that blink rates could be used by professionals to catch liars.

In the study, a group of volunteers were told to go about their normal business for ten minutes but not to do anything that they might later have to lie about.

A second group were asked to steal an exam paper from an office, then to deny having taken it.

Experimenters, unaware of which group each individual was attached to, then asked each to recall exactly what they had been doing.

While they were being asked questions, their blink rates, which had all been the same at the start, were monitored with electrodes placed above and below and at the sides of the eyes to monitor all movements.

Results show that when the questions were being asked and the answers given, the blink rate in the liars went down.

The truth tellers’ rate went up, possibly because of test anxiety.

Afterwards, the blink rate of the liars increased rapidly in a sudden flurry of activity, while that of the truth tellers remained the same.

The researchers say that the increased mental effort involved in telling fibs could be the reason why liars do not blink during the act of lying.

Dr Leal said: ‘Liars must need to make up their stories and must monitor their fabrication so that they are plausible and adhere to everything the observer knows or might find out.

‘In addition, liars must remember their earlier statements, so that they appear consistent when re-telling their story, and know what they told to whom. Liars will be more inclined than truth tellers to monitor and control their demeanour so they will appear honest.

‘The reasons why there is a flurry of blinks after the lie is not really clear. It may be that this flurry is a kind of safety valve, like a release of energy after the tension of lying.’

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

10 Body Language Tips to Tell if Someone is Lying

Honesty is always the best policy but not everyone uses it. People lie often for personal gain, cheat someone, or to simply play a prank on friends. Our body language speaks about us, and no matter how hard we try to hide the truth it will come out one day. Positive med has signs and body language indicators that can help you figure out truth from lies.

1. Lack of or too much eye contact

The biggest indicator someone is telling a lie is lack of or too much eye contact. Its a common belief that when people lie they avoid eye contact and look elsewhere. While this is often true, some liars make too much eye contact just to make you believe they are speaking the truth.

2. Foot movement

When people lie they often exhibit signs of nervousness or anxiety. Foot movement is the biggest indicator of anxiety and nervousness. Liars often shake their legs or make regular leg movements to avoid tension and run away. This can be used as a clear-cut clue to catch a liar.

3. Shorter responses

This is a verbal clue displayed when people lie. When lying people often stay silent during the conversation or offer shorter responses. They also use more ums, ers, and ahs to fill in the gaps. If a person is making more speech errors its an indication of lack of truth.

4. Change in pitch

If you observe someone communicating in higher pitch than normal it can be a sign of lying. Some people also maintain lower than normal pitch. High or low pitch indicates there is something off.

5. Shoulder shrugs

People often shrug their shoulders when they don’t know or agree to something. If someone is shrugging while speaking it may indicate they don’t agree with what is coming out of their own mouth.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

6. Too much sweating

Some sweat excessively when they lie. This abnormal sweating happens because of the adrenalin rush from anxiety and nervousness.

7. Changing the Subject

The thought process required to support a lie should be fast. Not everyone has fast thought processes so they change the subject to something completely different.

8. Fidgeting

When people lie they often touch objects lying around to relieve stress. Some people might act as if they are more interested in the object than the conversation to avoid confrontation.

9. Face touching

Studies have found that when people lie, they often rub their nose. It’s a scientific observation, experts believe the adrenaline rush opens the capillaries of the nose making it itchy. Some people also cover their mouth and eyes while lying, this is an uncommon observation.

10. Excessive lip licking

Lying puts stress on our body and the biggest indicator of body stress is a dry mouth. In order to rectify the dry mouth, liars are often observed licking their lips often.
Unless the liar very staunchly believes in his/her lie, the above mentioned points should easily help you in spotting a liar.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

10 Body Language Tips to Tell if Someone is Lying
By PositiveMed-Team
Edited By Stephanie Dawson
[Last Updated: February 7th 2014]

London: Want to spot a liar? Forget eye movements. Instead, take the ‘write’ way, says a new study.

Psychologists have long suggested that lying changes handwriting as it forces the brain to work harder to invent facts, interfering with the normal writing process.

Now, a team at Haifa University in Israel has found that the real sign of a liar is in how he or she writes – in fact, they have discovered a series of tell-tale clues in the handwriting of fibbers, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported.

The study found that those who write lies press harder on the paper have longer strokes of pen and produce taller letters than those telling the truth. The differences are too subtle to see with the naked eye but can be detected using a computer and a touch-sensitive pad, the researchers said.

For the study, the researchers asked 34 volunteers to write two short paragraphs, one recalling a real memory, the other a fictitious event. The volunteers used a wireless pen
with a pressure-sensitive tip to write their memories and lies on paper placed on a computer tablet, which monitored and analysed their writing style.

“In the false writing condition, the average pressure, stroke length and height were significantly higher than in the true writing condition,” said the researchers, whose study has been published the ‘Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology’.

Experts have welcomed the research. Professor Richard Wiseman of Hertfordshire University said the technique was promising, but needed more testing. “We know people hesitate more when they lie and some companies already use this fact to see how long it takes people to tick boxes when filling in surveys online.”

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7 Ways To Spot A Liar By Their Body Language

7 Ways To Spot A Liar By Their Body Language

Children often will attempt to cover their mouths when they lie in an attempt to stop the naughty worlds coming out. If they do not wish to listen to a parent telling them off, they may well cover their ears to block out the noise and of course, if there is something they do not want to acknowledge seeing, they may cover their eyes.

As children get older, these hand to face gestures become quicker and more subtle, however, they still occur when they are lying, covering up or even witnessing deceit.

In a book by Desmond Morris that I read called “People Watching” and in it he cites some research in which nurses were instructed to lie to their patients. The nurses who lied showed a higher usage of hand to face gestures.

Let me get something straight here; when someone uses a hand to face gesture, it does not necessarily mean that they are lying. It does indicate that the person could be holding back information or you may want to consider looking at the grander scheme of their posture and manner rather than just the simple hand to face gesture.

Today, I want to give you 7 of the most common gestures that indicate deceit:

1. Covering the mouth: The hand covers the mouth as your brain unconsciously asks it to try to suppress that deceitful message being communicated. On occasions, this gesture may just be a few fingers over the mouth, or the fist closed, the meaning generally is the same though.

Some people attempt to misguide the covering of the mouth with a cough or even a fake yawn, it can be funny to see it happening. One of my favourite films, the Godfather, you can observe that when the actors playing gangsters are discussing criminal activities, they often use this gesture to show they are being secretive and it is very much observed in the wonderful TV series “The Sopranos”, another real favourite of mine.

If this gesture is used, it shows that they might be lying. If they cover their mouth when you are speaking, it might indicate that they feel you are hiding something. At my speaking events, if I see members of my audience using this gesture, then I get worried! I may well interrupt proceedings and ask if anyone has questions so that they can voice their concern. Can’t say this has happened often though!

2. Touching the nose: Touching the nose can include several rubs of the nose or it may be a single quick one, or one that is hardly noticed.

This gesture should be read in the general scheme of things. If you are like me and you clip your nasal hair (eeewwww!) then if it is growing back you may get an itchy nose! Or they may have a cold.

There is much research to show that the nose engorges when we lie. In Chicago , scientists at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation found that when you lie chemicals are released, causing tissue inside the nose to engorge. They also showed that blood pressure rises and the nose does actually get bigger when we lie! There is truth in the Pinocchio story!

Increased blood pressure inflates the nose and causes the nerve endings in the nose to tingle, which you have to give a brisk rub to satisfy. There you go.

3. Rubbing your eye: I mention kids covering their eyes earlier, and when an adult does not want to see something upsetting, the eye rub often happens. Rubbing the eye is often the brains way of blocking our deceit or avoiding having to look at the person that is being lied to.

Men usually rub their eyes vigorously or even look away of they tell a great big lie. Women are far less likely to rub their eyes, they instead elect to use a more subtle, smaller touch beneath the eye.

No doubt you have heard that well-used phrase “lying through their teeth.” When someone is lying, often they clench their teeth, put on a fake smile and rub their eye is a collection of gestures.

4. Grabbing of the ear: Now I am not talking about something my school P.E. teacher used to do to me when he caught me getting up to mischief!!

If a sales person said to a client that “it only costs £150 for our services” if the person then grabs their own ear, looks away maybe and says “that sounds like a great deal.” This may well be an attempt by the listener to “hear no evil.”

Attempting to block out the words they are hearing by tugging the ear lobe or grabbing their ear. This is the grown up version of a child covering their ears as I mentioned earlier.

Grabbing the ear can often be a sign that the person has heard enough or would like to communicate themselves. It is often experienced if someone is anxious.

5. Scratching the neck: Using the index finger mainly of the dominant hand and scratches the neck. We usually scratch 5 times or so when we do so. This gesture shows doubt and is often present when someone is thinking that they do not agree with what they just heard. Watch for this gesture alongside verbal communication, it usually goes with someone attempting to get out of something or politely disagreeing.

6. Pulling at your collar: You have heard the expression “getting hot under the collar” of course.

Again, Desmond Morris pointed out that lying often causes a tingle in the delicate neck tissues which needs a rub or a scratch to satisfy it. Increased blood pressure from the deceit causes sweat to form on the neck often, especially if the person lying suspects that the other person knows!

7. Putting fingers in your mouth: This tends to happen unconsciously and is seen by many as an attempt to revert to the security of suckling the mother’s breast and this often occurs when we are pressurized. Children often suck their thumbs or carry a blanket to substitute their mothers breast, then as an adult, they tend to put their fingers to their mouth or such on cigarettes, pens, their glasses or chew gum frequently.

Fingers in the mouth tend to indicate a need for reassurance.

So there you go, see what you can detect in others when you are out there in the world. Be sure to remember that these things need to be noticed in the grander scheme of behaviour and manner, they are not black and white. If someone scratches their nose in front of you, look at the context, their other gestures and manner before you scream “liar” in their direction.

  • How to spot a liar by their eye movements
  • How to spot a liar by their eye movements
  • How to spot a liar by their eye movements

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Just about everyone you know tells low-stakes lies, but some people even go so far as to lie about important matters that could forever change their relationships, end their employment, or even send them to jail.

Detecting high-stakes liars is often the work of the FBI, and they frequently look to facial expressions, body language, and verbal indicators as signals, or “tells,” that someone is lying.

Mark Bouton, an FBI agent for 30 years and author of “How to Spot Lies Like the FBI,” tells Business Insider that he used certain tells to help identify Timothy McVeigh as a suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing. But being able to read facial expressions to detect lies can be beneficial even if you’re not conducting criminal investigations, he says.

“There are a number of facial expressions and associated reactions that could indicate someone is lying to you,” he says. “Some are caused by nervousness, some by chemical reactions, and others by physical reactions.”

To start, he says it’s important to understand how the person in question normally acts.

“It’s best to observe someone for a while as you make small talk or ask innocuous questions, in order to see what his usual reactions are, including tics he may have,” he says. “Then if he exhibits several lying indicators when you ask more pointed or suggestive questions, and these are not ones he previously performed, you can be confident that he’s likely lying.”

Here are some things you can do to tell if someone’s lying:

Watch their eyes

“This is a physiological reaction to him feeling uncomfortable or trapped by your questions that he doesn’t want to answer,” Bouton says. “It’s a throwback to when people had to seek an escape route when they feared they were in a dangerous situation, such as facing a human or animal adversary.”

Keep an eye out for rapid blinking

“A person will ordinarily blink about five or six times a minute, or once every 10 or 12 seconds,” Bouton says. “When stressed – for instance, when someone knows he’s lying – he may blink five or six times in rapid succession.”

Bouton says exceptions to the usual blink rate mostly have to do with production of dopamine in the body. For example, a person with Parkinson’s disease will have a noticeably slower blink rate than what is usual, while a person with schizophrenia will blink more rapidly than normal.

Count how long someone closes their eyes

Bouton says that when a person closes his eyes for a second or two, this may indicate he’s lied to you, since this is a type of defense mechanism. Normally, he explains, a person will blink at a speed of 100 to 400 milliseconds, or 0.10 to 0.40 of a second.

Pay attention to the direction they look

“When you ask a normal, right-handed person about something he’s supposed to have seen, if he looks upward and to his left, he’s truly accessing his memory of the incident,” Bouton says. “However, if he looks upward and to his right, he’s accessing his imagination, and he’s inventing an answer.”

Bouton says that left-handed people will usually have just the opposite reactions.

And some people will stare straight ahead when trying to recall a visual memory, he says.

Take note of what you’re asking them

“If you ask about what a person heard, his eyes will shift toward his left ear to recollect the sound he heard, but if his eyes shift toward his right, he’s about to fib,” Bouton says.

The key is in what they’re trying to recall

“His eyes will shift downward and to his left if he’s going to tell you his memory of a smell or touch or sensation, such as a cold draft or a terrible odor,” Bouton explains. “But his eyes will shift down and to his right if he’s going to lie.”

Bunched skin beneath and wrinkles beside the eyes indicate a real smile

Bouton says that when people genuinely smile, the skin around their eyes bunch and wrinkle.

Watch their hands as well

Bouton explains that a chemical reaction causes people’s faces to itch when they lie.

And keep an eye on what they do with their mouth

“A person’s mouth will often go dry as she’s lying,” Bouton says. “She may do a sucking motion, pursing her lips, to try to overcome this.”

When their lips are so tightened that they appear pinched and white, this can indicate lying.

Take note of any excessive sweating

Bouton says sweat may appear on the forehead, cheeks, or back of the neck, and you’ll likely observe the person try to wipe it away.

And in some instances, notice when the person blushes

Blushing is an involuntary reflex caused by sympathetic nervous system (this activates your fight-or-flight response) and is a response to the release of adrenaline.

Pay attention to which direction they shake their head

Often when people tell the truth they will nod their heads simultaneously in agreement with what they’re saying. But if they shake their heads in disagreement with what they’ve said, their bodies are betraying their lie.

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Posted by: Jo Banks

One of the most useful things I’ve learned over the years is how to read body language. Knowing how to spot if someone is lying is a key skill. Learn how to do it here.

I’ve studied it avidly over the years and it’s helped me immeasurably in my professional life.

From the beginning of my career I have observed others’ body language. Not only have I found it fascinating, but it has allowed me to perform my job better. As I’ve always worked in people centric roles, understanding what others are really thinking rather than just taking what they say on face value, has been invaluable to me. Particular examples of this are:

  • When trying to ascertain the truth when conducting investigations in to disciplinary issues with staff
  • Gaining an understanding of what Union Representatives were really thinking rather than what they are telling me during complex union negotiations
  • Being able to immediately see whether my clients are ‘bought’ into what we are discussing
  • Being able to see where my clients are storing their memories and whether they are emotionally attached to them or not (honestly!) so that I can help them change negative ones to positive ones (these are some of the skills you learn through Neuro Linguistic Programming – NLP)

Spotting deception

There are number of ways of spotting deception and it’s a combination of these which makes identification more accurate. However, I have to say that the study of body language is not an exact science. Sometimes we may think someone is lying, but signs exhibited by deceit are virtually the same as those we exhibit when we’re stressed. Therefore, I’m going to put a huge warning on the what follows in this post – THIS IS A GUIDE ONLY and should not be used to make any life changing decisions!

Spotting deception through eye cues

In NLP, we learn eye cues (which direction a person’s eyes are looking when we ask them certain questions) in order to get a good idea of what someone is thinking. Here’s a quick diagram that illustrates it perfectly (the illustrations assume that you are facing the other person (so that their left is your right):

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Eye Cue Summary

Try this out on your friends – after each description, I’ve added questions you can use to test the theories out. When you’re facing the person.

  • Up and to the right usually means that a person is remembering something visually – ‘Do you remember the last time we went to the pub/cinema . What did we do/see?’
  • Up and to the left usually means that a person is imagining (constructing ie making something up – lying) something visually – ‘What does a dog look like with a cats head?’
  • Right side (horizontal) usually means a remembered sound – ‘What does your phone ring tone sound like?’
  • Left side (horizontal) usually means an imagined (constructed) sound – ‘What do you think you’d sound like if you were a man/woman?’
  • Down left usually means that a person is accessing a bodily feeling – ‘How did you feel about. ’
  • Down right usually means that a person is accessing internal dialogue – ‘What do you think about. ’

A word of caution here, these eye cues cannot be relied upon 100%. Experienced NLP professionals use them in conjunction with observing what the person is saying together with their general body language. Also the eye cues may be reversed in some people for a number of reasons, including if the person is left handed.

Spotting deception through body language

We also need to be aware of other body language traits, which together with the eye movements, will give you a better idea of whether someone is being truthful or not. When we lie, no matter how accomplished we are, we usually can’t control our automatic or reflex body reactions. Our blood pressure and pulse tends to rise, our breathing patterns change and the blood drains from our faces (causing our noses to itch!).

Deception traits to look out for:

  1. Touching the nose – very few people can resist touching their nose when they lie (during Bill Clinton’s interrogation over his relationship with his former ‘Aid’, he was seen to touch his nose more than 25 times).
  2. Blushing and sweating – this often occurs in less experienced liars.
  3. Posture – we like to put some space between ourselves and the person we’re lying to, so people tend to lean back in their chair or back away if they’re standing. People will avoid body contact if at all possible.
  4. Head positions – we don’t like to look a person in the eye if we’re lying to them, so a person may move their heads to the side and will avoid your gaze.
  5. Facial expressions – we often grimace involuntarily.
  6. Mouth expressions – Children often cover their mouths when they’re lying and we take that trait (albeit not always as overtly) into adult life. We’ll often take our hand toward the mouth but touch the chin, cheek or side of the mouth.
  7. Hand gestures – a common gesture is the palms turned out and a sharp shrug of the shoulders. This can indicate a feeling of helplessness and is almost an apology for lying.


As I said with a HUGE caveat – this information is for guidance only and shouldn’t be relied up for making big decisions. What I will say is that your ‘gut’ feeling is usually the most reliable indicator of who’s telling you the truth. That ‘gut’ feeling is there for a reason and usually right, however, we do tend to override it quite frequently. Start tuning into that feeling more often and act on what it’s telling you – nature created that feeling for a reason, to keep us out of danger. You decisions will turn out to be much better for it.

In the next post, I’ll talk a bit more about general body language in the workplace, including how to tell who is and who wants to be ‘top dog’.

If you would like a free consultation on how we can help you, contact us now with no obligation.

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How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Body language should be read through a scientific and unemotional eye, report researchers at the Harvard Business School. Whether in business or romance, many people use body language to convey false messages and to manipulate others. Cons are masters at recognizing the nonverbal communications of others and preying on the needs they perceive. It can be very useful to learn a few concepts about how to read body language lies.

Keep a close watch on the eyes. It is very difficult for a liar to look you straight in the eye. At the same time, pathological liars and those practiced in the art of lying may hold your eyes for longer than a few seconds to make you feel uncomfortable and unable to rely on your instincts.

Watch the hands of the person speaking. While keeping the hands held behind the back may be thought of as a power stance, it is more likely to mean the person is hiding something. Truthful people use open palms, while liars usually will keep their palms hidden in the pockets or turned over.

Consider how the person touches his face. Taekwondo instructors at TKD Tutor report that people often will cover their mouths when they are lying. They will place the thumb on their cheeks and splay two or more fingers across their mouths in an effort to “cover up” their lies. They may institute a fake cough to cover up the signal.

Be on guard around people who touch their faces in any form. Rubbing the nose often indicates the person is a skilled liar and is merely diverting his hand from his mouth on purpose. A person who rubs his eyes often is trying to avoid eye contact while lying.

Pay attention to nervous gestures that could give away a liar. No matter how accomplished liars are, they often develop twitches in their feet or legs. They may fidget with their clothing by picking at lint or straightening their pants leg. Slouching, shrugging and other gestures that are abnormal for the person also can be signs of an impending lie.

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Everyone has been lied to at some point in their life. The thought of being betrayed by the people close to us can hurt, but sometimes it happens. As with a lot of situations, there are red flags to watch out for when you suspect someone is lying to you. Along with verbal cues that someone might not be telling the truth, there are multiple physical signs that can do the same.

1. Difficulty Making Eye Contact

The biggest way to tell if someone is being untruthful is to watch their eyes. You’ve probably heard that the eyes are the window to the soul and in a lot of cases, it’s true. According to E. E. Smith, liars avoid eye contact, look down when they’re speaking, or angle their bodies away from whoever they’re speaking to. In a maneuver called “eye pointing”, retired FBI Agent Jack Schafer says, “Liars often look toward the nearest exit, telegraphing their desire to physically and psychologically escape the anxiety caused by lying.”

2. Self-Soothing

Self-soothing is the act of touching oneself to try and find a sense of comfort. Dr. Diana Raab says actions like ear tugging, neck touching, collar pulling, or mouth covering may indicate that someone is telling a lie. There is no sure way to tell whether a person who is self-soothing is coming up with a lie or trying to recover from one. However, Smith says that body language is a dead giveaway.

3. Change in Voice

A change in voice can come from a change in emotion, internal state, or just change in pitch. When liars feel threatened, they may get super defensive, their heart may start to race and an outpour of emotions may cause an unintentional change in the way they speak. Raab says even if they’re good at controlling their emotions, a change in pitch may tell when someone is lying and uncomfortable.

4. Throat Clearing

According to Schafer, a liar’s “fight or flight” response can make the throat really dry. Throat clearing, hard swallowing, and jaw manipulation are signs that a person is trying to create more saliva. The lack of moisture in the mouth makes it difficult for them to speak a lot without stimulating those salivary glands in the throat. You just might be having a conversation with a truthful person with a dry throat but it’s unlikely if there’s a lot of mouth movement going on.

5. Sweat

Where does that moisture from the mouth go when it disappears? It turns into sweat! Schafer says moisture from the throat usually reroutes itself to the skin to escape as sweat. A lot of people sweat when they get nervous and this is no different. Depending on the level of duress the body is under and the amount of stress the liar feels, they could sweat anywhere from a few drops to a whole cup full.

6. Unusual Fidgeting

A fidgety person is always suspicious to most people. When someone can’t sit or stand still, people usually take notice and watch carefully. This should be the same response in the presence of a liar. “When pressed for details, they may get fidgety or agitated,” says Smith. Twitching or making movements they wouldn’t usually make (like folding the arms) indicate that a person may be lying or feel as if they’re about to be caught.

7. Backward Movement

A lot of people don’t really notice but liars sometimes make backward movements to put more space in between them and the person they’re speaking to. Schafer says that moving the head back, leaning backward or physically taking a step back can be signs of untruthfulness. “People tend to lean toward the people and things they like, and distance themselves from people and things they dislike,” Schafer says.

How to spot a Liar

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

However much we may abhor it, deception comes naturally to all living things. Birds do it by feigning injury to lead hungry predators away from nesting young. Spider crabs do it by disguise: adorning themselves with strips of kelp and other debris, they pretend to be something they are not – and so escape their enemies. Nature amply rewards successful deceivers by allowing them to survive long enough to mate and reproduce. So it may come as no surprise to learn that human beings- who, according to psychologist Gerald Johnson of the University of South California, or lied to about 200 times a day, roughly one untruth every 5 minutes- often deceive for exactly the same reasons: to save their own skins or to get something they can’t get by other means.

But knowing how to catch deceit can be just as important a survival skill as knowing how to tell a lie and get away with it. A person able to spot falsehood quickly is unlikely to be swindled by an unscrupulous business associate or hoodwinked by a devious spouse. Luckily, nature provides more than enough clues to trap dissemblers in their own tangled webs- if you know where to look. By closely observing facial expressions, body language and tone of voice, practically anyone can recognise the tell-tale signs of lying. Researchers are even programming computers – like those used on Lie Detector -to get at the truth by analysing the same physical cues available to the naked eye and ear. “With the proper training, many people can learn to reliably detect lies,” says Paul Ekman, professor of psychology at the University of California, San Francisco, who has spent the past 15 years studying the secret art of deception.

In order to know what kind of Lies work best, successful liars need to accurately assess other people’s emotional states. Ackman’s research shows that this same emotional intelligence is essential for good lie detectors, too. The emotional state to watch out for is stress, the conflict most liars feel between the truth and what they actually say and do.
Even high-tech lie detectors don’t detect lies as such; they merely detect the physical cues of emotions, which may or may not correspond to what the person being tested is saying. Polygraphs, for instance, measure respiration, heart rate and skin conductivity, which tend to increase when people are nervous – as they usually are when lying. Nervous people typically perspire, and the salts contained in perspiration conducts electricity. That’s why sudden leap in skin conductivity indicates nervousness -about getting caught, perhaps -which makes, in turn, suggest that someone is being economical with the truth. On the other hand, it might also mean that the lights in the television Studio are too hot- which is one reason polygraph tests are inadmissible in court. “Good lie detectors don’t rely on a single thing” says Ekma ,but interpret clusters of verbal and non-verbal clues that suggest someone might be lying.”

The clues are written all over the face. Because the musculature of the face is directly connected to the areas of the brain that processes emotion, the countenance can be a window to the soul. Neurological studies even suggest that genuine emotions travel different pathways through the brain than insincere ones. If a patient paralyzed by stroke on one side of the face, for example, is asked to smile deliberately, only the mobile side of the mouth is raised. But tell that same person a funny joke, and the patient breaks into a full and spontaneous smile. Very few people -most notably, actors and politicians- are able to consciously control all of their facial expressions. Lies can often be caught when the liars true feelings briefly leak through the mask of deception. We don’t think before we feel, Ekman says. “Expressions tend to show up on the face before we’re even conscious of experiencing an emotion.”

One of the most difficult facial expressions to fake- or conceal, if it’s genuinely felt – is sadness. When someone is truly sad, the forehead wrinkles with grief and the inner corners of the eyebrows are pulled up. Fewer than 15% of the people Ekman tested were able to produce this eyebrow movement voluntarily. By contrast, the lowering of the eyebrows associated with an angry scowl can be replicated at will but almost everybody. “ If someone claims they are sad and the inner corners of their eyebrows don’t go up, Ekmam says, the sadness is probably false.”

The smile, on the other hand, is one of the easiest facial expressions to counterfeit. It takes just two muscles -the zygomaticus major muscles that extend from the cheekbones to the corners of the lips- to produce a grin. But there’s a catch. A genuine smile affects not only the corners of the lips but also the orbicularis oculi, the muscle around the eye that produces the distinctive “crow’s feet” associated with people who laugh a lot. A counterfeit grin can be unmasked if the corners of the lips go up, the eyes crinkle, but the inner corners of the eyebrows are not lowered, a movement controlled by the orbicularis oculi that is difficult to fake. The absence of lowered eyebrows is one reason why the smile looks so strained and stiff.

What is deception detection?

Deception detection refers to the investigative practices used to determine a person’s truthfulness and credibility. This is largely determined through the consideration of certain behavioral and physiological cues as well as larger contextual and situational information.

What methods are used to detect deception?

While historians are not entirely sure where or when deception detection practices originated, it is clear that humans have been trying to figure out how to tell if someone is lying for centuries.

Fortunately, the methodologies have evolved drastically over time, shifting first from non-scientific testing (i.e., Salem Witch Trials) to more biologically-oriented ones (i.e., phrenology and graphology). Today’s deception detection generally combines behavioral psychology (i.e., human observation) and technology (i.e. polygraphs and artificial intelligence).

How to spot a liar by their eye movements

Dr. Ekman’s work in the field of deception detection largely focuses on nonverbal communication of emotion observed in the face and body.

The challenges of deception detection

There is no single, definitive sign of deceit itself; no muscle twitch, facial expression, or gesture proves that a person is lying with absolute certainty. Therefore, most modern-day methods of deception detection heavily rely on a variety of methods to collect, analyze and interpret emotional and physiological data.

However, any data collected merely expose emotional clues that may or may not be related to deception. For example, sweaty palms during a job interview could indicate an interviewee’s fear of being caught in a lie about their qualifications. Or , sweaty palms could be illustrating their fear that the interviewer won’t believe their qualifications despite being totally honest on their resume. Or, their palms could be sweaty because they’re worried about something else entirely, like a sick child at home.

There are still many more possible reasons why a person might experience sweating palms, especially during high stakes scenarios. To determine the actual cause, further investigation and analysis is needed. Jumping to conclusions, while easy to do, can be harmful to everyone involved and must be avoided.

Do lie detectors actually work?

The polygraph lie detector works on the same principles as detecting behavioral betrayals of deceit, and it is vulnerable to the same problems. The polygraph exam does not detect lies, just signs of emotion and requires further investigation.

When people think they move their eyes

The relationship between thinking and eye movements was one of the first observations made when NLP began around in the early 1970’s. This relationship can provide valuable information on how best to communicate with someone.

(Note: A lot of claims, studies and articles for how the NLP Eye Movements are supposed to work are flawed and untrustworthy so do take the time to read how they work – and the skills needed to use them reliably.)

What they show us

Developing skill in using the NLP Eye Movements will enable you to recognise how a person may be thinking – though not what they are thinking about!

Some people think mainly in images. Others in self talk. Others in feelings and still others, though a minority, in sounds.

The ‘Standard’ Eye Directions

The ‘standard’ eye movement directions as mapped out by NLP co-developers John Grinder, Frank Pucelik and Richard Bandler are shown in the diagram.

(Imagine this diagram superimposed on the person’s face. So that as you face them their Kinaesthetic direction is to YOUR left.)

The NLP eye directions are not true!

These standard NLP eye directions are simply not ‘true’.

They are not true because

  1. Not everyone follows ‘the rules’ i.e. looks up and to the left or right to visualise or down to their right when thinking in feelings. Many do. And many do not.
  2. When people are thinking about recent events or information with which they are very familiar they may not move their eyes at all.

That’s why ‘scientific’ studies going back to the late 70’s have been able to prove that NLP ‘does not work’ or that is scientifically unsound. It’s also why the original developers of NLP have been warning that these standard directions are unreliable.

They simply offer a starting point – a hypothesis-to-be-checked. And they have been telling people about this since the early 70’s – over 45 years ago.

Why pay attention to the NLP eye movements?

So if they are not ‘true’ why pay attention to them?

Being able to notice a person’s eye direction movements – and to recognise what these coudl be indicating, provides useful information about how they are thinking.

Let’s say, you are explaining to a colleague how to do something and they say they cannot follow your description. And, as they say this, they are looking UP to either the left or the right (indicating that they may be visualising or trying to visualise).

This can indicate that they need you to demonstrate, rather than verbally explain, so they will be able to see how to do it.

Let’s say, on the other hand, the person is looking down and to their right. This can indicate they are thinking in feelings. In this case it’s better for them if you get them actively doing it rather than passively listening or imagining.

Incidentally the person will rarely be consciously aware of how they are thinking – yet this information is available for the sharp-eyed and skilled observer.

Treat the Eye Patterns as a beginning – only!

These standard eye directions are likely to apply in a majority of people. (Note the word ‘likely’.) But, as we explain in our own NLP training courses it is important to treat this above diagram only as a starting point. It would be great and much more simple if we could take this map and know instantly what a person is doing internally – but in real life things are a little more complicated.

People differ and not everyone will have the same pattern. We recommend that you treat this diagram as an educated guess – and then use your NLP observation skills to establish how the person in front of you does it.

So when your friend looks up to their left or to their right this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are thinking in pictures – it simply means they are looking in this direction and doing something internally.

You have to establish what they mean using your ‘sensory acuity and calibration skills’. (Another Practitioner skill – it is the highly developed ability to recognise these very subtle behaviours and to ‘calibrate’ or recognise what they indicate for the particular individual with whom we are communicating.) In other words when they look in this direction do they make pictures or do they do something else?

Left or right?

So does it make a difference whether they look up to their left or up to their right?

Not for practical purposes. Yes, most NLP courses do teach that when a person looks up to their left they are remembering pictures and when they look up to their right they are ‘constructing’ pictures.

Now while this could be true for some or even many people, it’s a highly unreliable process. And this is why we don’t bother with this distinction in our own courses – if you want to know whether they are making up an image or remembering one it’s easier just to ask the person.

Better to keep things simple, recognise they are looking in one of the likely Visual Thinking directions, and then use the content of what they are saying and how they are saying it to gauge whether they are making up pictures are actually remember them.

The Great NLP Lie Detection myth

This distinction between whether a person is looking up to the left and up to the right has given rise to the Great NLP Lie Detector myth. In this myth people claim NLP enables you to tell if a person is lying merely by watching their eyes.

This claim is untrue.

And was first refuted by two or the originators of NLP in the book Frogs into Princes (1979). In it Bandler and Grinder said that in the case of some people their eyes could indicate whether or not they might be lying – but that this was not reliable.

Since the mid 90’s we have been passing along this message in our own Pegasus NLP courses – and providing a more measured and considered style of NLP.

One final tip.

The eye movements – when used with skill – are a great addition to your toolkit for communicating effectively with others. This skill is best learned on a live workshop where you are coached in the subtleties of observing and understanding eye movements.

However, there is a especially valuable tip which everyone can use without attending a training programme: if a person’s eyes are moving it indicates they are thinking – so you need to remain quiet until the eyes stop moving and look at you once again.