Skip to content

Health & Balance

10 Ways to Catch a Liar

Experts have 10 tips that can let you know if someone isn't telling you the whole truth.
Font Size
A
A
A

Tip No. 6: Watch for Microexpressions

When Joe Schmo has a gut feeling, Paul Ekman, a renowned expert in lie detection, sees microexpressions.

"A microexpression is a very brief expression, usually about a 25th of a second, that is always a concealed emotion," says Ekman, PhD, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco.

So when a person is acting happy, but in actuality is really upset about something, for instance, his true emotion will be revealed in a subconscious flash of anger on his face. Whether the concealed emotion is fear, anger, happiness, or jealousy, that feeling will appear on the face in the blink of an eye. The trick is to see it.

"Almost everyone -- 99% of those we've tested in about 10,000 people -- won't see them," says Ekman. "But it can be taught."

In fact, in less than an hour, the average person can learn to see microexpressions.

Tip No. 7: Look for Contradictions

"The general rule is anything that a person does with their voice or their gesture that doesn't fit the words they are saying can indicate a lie," says Ekman. "For example, this is going to sound amazing, but it is true. Sometimes when people are lying and saying, 'Yes, she's the one that took the money,' they will without knowing it make a slight head shake 'no.' That's a gesture and it completely contradicts what they're saying in words."

These contradictions, explains Ekman, can be between the voice and the words, the gesture and the voice, the gesture and the words, or the face and the words.

"It's some aspect of demeanor that is contradicting another aspect," Ekman tells WebMD.

Tip No. 8: A Sense of Unease

"When someone isn't making eye contact and that's against how they normally act, it can mean they're not being honest," says Jenn Berman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice. "They look away, they're sweating, they look uneasy ... anything that isn't normal and indicates anxiety."

Tip No. 9: Too Much Detail

"When you say to someone, 'Oh, where were you?' and they say, 'I went to the store and I needed to get eggs and milk and sugar and I almost hit a dog so I had to go slow,' and on and on, they're giving you too much detail," says Berman.

Too much detail could mean they've put a lot of thought into how they're going to get out of a situation and they've crafted a complicated lie as a solution.

Today on WebMD

woman in yoga class
6 health benefits of yoga.
beautiful girl lying down of grass
10 relaxation techniques to try.
 
mature woman with glass of water
Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
coffee beans in shape of mug
Get the facts.
 
jet plane landing at sunset
Slideshow
poinsettias
Quiz
 
Hungover man
Slideshow
Welcome mat and wellington boots
Slideshow
 
Woman worn out on couch
Article
Happy and sad faces
Quiz
 
Fingertip with string tied in a bow
Article
laughing family
Quiz