Four Body Language Cues That Might Indicate Someone Is Lying

Four Body Language Cues That Might Indicate Someone's Lying

You can never prove someone is lying just by looking at non-verbal cues — but they can let you know when something might be off. David DeSteno, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, conducted a thorough study and found four non-verbal indicators you might want to look for.

Photo by Dyanna Hyde

The study is fascinating and the full video below is worth watching, but here are the TL;DR results, There are four body language cues to signal that a person may not be entirely honest: touching hands, touching the face, crossing arms, and leaning away. Individually, they haven't proven to be effective indicators of a liar, but combined together, they're a bit more useful.

DeSteno states in his paper, the video and an article that this may not work when someone knows their body language is being observed for a tell — these are unintentional cues given off when a person is trying to hide the truth.

How to Tell if Someone is Lying [Harvard Business Review]


    I like the TL;DR (in cases like these) - it saves me watching a cheesy animation.

    Individually, they haven’t proven to be effective indicators of a liar, but combined together, they’re a bit more useful
    In the (admittedly few) books I've read on body tells, they've all said that the single tell is far too unreliable to determine a persons guilt, which is where most TV shows of this ilk mislead the viewer.
    Interestingly though, in Spy the Lie, CIA personnel evaluators would identify these tells as a flag that someone might know more than they were letting on, or was hiding something.
    They would then gently guide the questioning back around to those points, still in an amicable manner, and start asking bracketing questions to see what other flags they could observe.
    It is very much a soft skill, because as they've said, once someone becomes aware they are being observed, they shut down and any further data is considered far too unreliable.

    Last edited 23/02/14 11:48 am

    So when I lean back to think, and rub my chin, people think I'm a liar?


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