Learn To Spot A Liar With These Verbal Signs

At times, lies seem so harmless, but they can stress us out and even cost us money. On a more subtle level, it changes our pattern of speech, and since most of us aren't as good at lying as we think, if you know what to look for you can probably catch a lie in the act.

The explanation for why we lie is pretty straightforward: we want to connect ourselves to who we think we should be, rather than just being the person we are, this TED-Ed video explains.

Stories based on lies, or "imagined experiences", are different from real experiences because we have to put a bit of thought into it. As such, we'll change the way we speak without even knowing it. Specifically, there are four notable indicators:

  1. Minimal self-references: Liars often use the third-person to distance themselves from the deceptive statements.
  2. Negative language: Liars tend to be more negative because on a subconscious level, they feel guilty about lying.
  3. Simple explanations: Liars typically recount stories or events in simple terms because it's hard for the brain to come up with a complex lie (at least on the spot).
  4. Convoluted phrasing: Liars use longer, more convoluted sentences with irrelevant details when they could be more straight to the point.

The rest of the video spends time applying these key points to examples in our culture, examining how certain public figures change their way of speaking from one interview (presumably where they lie) to another (where they tell the truth).

As we've written in other articles, looking for nonverbal cues is also important.

The Language of Lying [TED-Ed]


Comments

    Simple explanations: Liars typically recount stories or events in simple terms because it’s hard for the brain to come up with a complex lie (at least on the spot).
    Convoluted phrasing: Liars use longer, more convoluted sentences with irrelevant details when they could be more straight to the point.

    Just countering each other, you're a liar if you're short and to the point and you're a liar if you take too long....

      I went what? at that too. But they are not really contradictory. The first refers to complex, i.e. a complicated interconnection of parts that are required to make sense of 'it'. The second refers to convoluted stories, probably with details that add complexity but are irrelevant.

      It is probably why liars often talk fast. It can have the effect of overburdening the listener so with so much information to process, the lie or inconsistency becomes either difficult to detect or the listener gives up and doesn't analyse the information, and simply accepts the proposition.

      I guess this is why some of us have a negative reaction to people talking fast (at least faster than you can process), in particular when they are trying to sell you something. On the other hand people who give it to you in simple terms might merely think you are simple :), you can always ask them a question. The fast talker avoids this because you probably didn't catch enough of it to ask a question. I have digressed into fast talkers but I think it is related, hopefully I am not branded a liar for adding irrelevant details.

      The above is just my 2 cents worth, what would I know. I agree with you though, using the point form the author does come across as using 'simple explanations', and would appear, using these criteria, to be a liar. However, as you point out that may be a little unfair.

      Last edited 13/06/16 12:55 pm

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