How To Detect Lying Over The Phone

Have you ever felt like a customer service rep or friend was lying to you over the phone? It's hard to detect deception without visual cues, but Psychology Today suggests it's not impossible if you listen closely for for a few specific words.

Photo by Greg O'Connell.

Psychologist John R. Schafer suggests a good way to sniff out a lie over the phone is to listen for word fillers. These are words like "umm", "ah", or in case of replying to a direct yes or no question, "well". These are traditionally used to buy a liar a little more time to come up with a response. It's also good to listen for a silent delay between your question and the answer. Be careful not to jump to conclusions if a response takes a while. Often it's just a drop in cell phone reception. These clues don't mean anything in isolation, but if you hear these words repeatedly, it's a good sign the person isn't being truthful with you.

Detecting Deception Over the Telephone [Psychology Today]


    "It’s also good to listen for a silent delay between your question and the answer." That doesn't always mean the person is lieing. You might have asked them a question they don't know the answer to so they have to think about a response.

    So many people cannot form complete sentences on the fly so they use substitutes such as "umm" & "aahhh". It in no way at means they're lying. Just incompetent. I kid, I kid.

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