Catch A Lie In An Email Or Text Message By Looking For These Red Flags

Catch a Lie in an Email or Text Message by Looking for These Red Flags

Catching a liar in person usually means looking for a variety of nonverbal cues, but that's not as easy when it's written in a text message or email. For that, The Wall Street Journal suggests looking for subtle changes in how someone words things.

Detecting a lie over text is tough, but you can watch out for a variety of red flags. Here are just a few of them:

  • Watch for when a writer omits personal pronouns from a story
  • Look for noncommittal expressions (probably, pretty sure, must have)
  • Changes in tense can signal a lie in an otherwise true story
  • Uncharacteristic speech can indicate a lie
  • Abrupt changes of topics are often used to move the topic away from a lie
  • Look for too much insignificant detail
  • Qualifier statements like "to be honest" and "as far as I remember" can signal a lie

It's not nearly as easy as spotting a lie in person, but it can be done. None of the above red flags guarantee a lie -- context matters. Still, they're often good indicators.

How to Tell If Someone Is Lying to You in an Email [The Wall Street Journal]


    Of course that assumes the person knows how to use tense and pronouns correctly in the first place.

      aaaaand be really anal about getting everything right when texting someone.

    Newman, Pennebaker, Berry & Richards (2003). Lying words: Predicting deception from linguistic styles. Personality and Social PsychologyBulletin, 29, 665-675.

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