Contrary to what you might have heard, liars CAN look you in the eye – and they’re often caught on camera in court doing exactly that.
So how can you spot a liar?
Body language expert and author Darren Stanton says that the key is to understand the physiological and psychological processes going on inside someone who is lying.
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Stanton worked with PlayStation on a new game, Hidden Agenda, where he watched players attempting to lie – and says there’s no such thing as a liar who can’t be spotted.
Repeating what the person just said
Stanton, a former police officer, says that a key sign is when someone repeats what you just said as a question.
Stanton says, ‘If I said to you, ‘Be honest, did you burgle that property,’ and you weren’t expecting it, you might lie and say, ‘No I did not burgle that property.’
‘The classic example is when Bill Clinton said, ‘I did not have relations with that woman.’
‘If you’re innocent, you wouldn’t repeat, you’d go on the offensive.’
Prolonged eye contact
Stanton says, ‘It’s a big urban myth, that someone who is lying can’t look you in the eye. What happens is that liars tend to overcompensate.
‘Normally when you look at someone, it lasts two to five seconds. When people are lying, they let it last longer than five seconds – and it feels kind of odd.’
Looking the ‘wrong’ way
You can tell a lot from looking at someone’s eyes, Stanton says.
Stanton says, ‘Generally, when right-handed people are remembering things, they look left, so when they’re lying it sometimes changes.
‘If you ask for information, and they look right instead of left, it can be a sign they’re not accessing information in their brain – but something they just made up.
Using the ‘open palm’ gesture
People who are feeling guilty often make exaggerated protests of innocence says Stanton, such as showing the ‘open palm’ gesture.
Stanton says, ‘That gesture began as a way to say, ‘I have no weapons’. But someone who is lying often uses it. Another sign is when people really overcompensate with protestations of innocence, such as saying, ‘I swear on my kids.’
‘Micro expressions’ are where an expression ‘flashes’ across someone’s face for less than a fifth of a second, Stanton says – and can reveal their true feelings.
Stanton says, ‘These can often be red flags, betraying a person’s real feelings. For instance, if you’re going for the same job as someone, and you get it, then might say, ‘I’m really pleased’ – but just for a split second, they’ll crinkle their nose, betraying what they really think’.
Hidden Agenda, is out now exclusively on PlayLink for PlayStation 4. The multiplayer crime thriller is controlled using your smartphone as players hunt for a serial killer known as ‘The Trapper’.