Spot Liars By Watching Their Initial Reaction

Picking out a lie from someone who is experienced at deception can be tough. As an article at Forbes points out, the most important clues often come within the first five seconds of a conversation.

Photo by Bill Longstaff.

We've talked a lot about the different clues you can watch out for when trying to detect a lie, including the fact many liars begin a sentence with "well", how liars often use filler words like "um" or "ah", and how body language might reveal a liar. These are all the types of clues you want to watch out for in the first five seconds.

Forbes' evidence is pulled from the book written by former CIA officers, Spy the Lie:

The authors note that if a person is really innocent, they will usually deny the crime in straightforward language at the beginning of the interview. In fact, they say the most important clues come just five seconds after a question is asked.

In one scenario, author Houston recounts how one of his employees at The Farm, a CIA training facility, reported to him that 40 dollars was missing from her wallet, and there was only one other employee who had been in the room where she had left her purse. Houston knew that if the suspect had not taken the money, he would simply say, immediately "I didn't take it and I have no idea who did." Instead, the suspect tried to get Houston to walk out to the parking lot and look at his car, where he had a trunk full of bibles.

The takeaway is that if you suspect someone of lying, start paying attention to their actions immediately. It's easy to start suspecting someone is lying well into a conversation, but it's tougher to detect a lie once they're into their story. Head over to Forbes for a few more tips pulled from the book.

How to Tell When Someone Is Lying [Forbes]


    I would have thought the fact that the dude had a trunk full of bibles would have been enough to question his legitimacy.... Probly doing some serious blackmarket pirating....

    All of this stuff has long been proven to be rubbish. These so-called methods are highly unreliable and always inconclusive. I know lots of honest people who 'um' and 'ah' a lot, they just aren't very articulate.


      "the authors emphasize that lie detection is far from an exact science. But if you read this book, which is packed with great anecdotes, you will feel closer to being able to flesh out a lie."

      This. I know someone who is a chronic liar and he doesn't do this. I just never believe anything he says anymore, but usually his tone of voice changes when he's bullshitting.

    Everyone has different tells when they are lying, the purpose of the articles and books is to alert and educate you on the different types of tells and different ways to determine whether someone is being honest or not. Obviously its not a one-for-all approach as no human communicates identically as another - it's just easier to determine who's b*llshitting when you have a mental list of indications.

    I've read that you are more likely to catch someone lying if you aren't watching them. Most people have 0.5 probability of doing so face to face, but over the phone that increases to nearly 0.7, so if you want to tell if someone is lying to you, you are better off not looking at them and listening to them more intently.

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