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 6 Types of Lies


Why We Lie

Lying is deeply embedded in our subconscious as a result of evolution.  This means that our many ancestors who survived by lying (and doing deceptive things) passed on stronger and stronger genes in each generation for this talent.

Empathy—The Key to Lying

Lying is done through communication.  As humans, we communicate in many different ways, both verbally (talking, sounds) and non-verbally (facial and body gestures).  Another important component of communication is the ability to empathize, or understand what a person might be thinking or feeling.  Having empathy is necessary to lie, because you have to understand another person's thoughts and feelings to be able to make them believe your lie.



Protective lie shields liar from danger to spare someone's feelings, or to get out of doing something.


Heroic lie protects someone else from danger.


Playful lie enhances the story.


Ego lie prevents embarrassment.


Gainful lie enriches the liar.


Malicious lie hurts someone.


3 Revealing Facial Expression Clues that Identify Deceit or Lies

These facial expressions are triggered by emotion and are involuntary.

1.  Timing

If facial expressions are not in synch with what is being said, a person might be hiding something or lying.  For example, if the moment calls for a smile and the smile is delayed or the timing is off.  A genuine smile will crest over their face like a wave.

2.  Emotion and Facial Expressions

When someone is lying, they will do one of three things.  

- Show emotion when they have none

- Show no emotion (poker face)

- Mask one emotion with another

3.  Eyes and Upper Half vs. Lower Half

The upper half of a persons face is a much more reliable measure than the lower half.  It generates more involuntary clues and is extremely difficult for someone to control.
 Using smiling as an example, the most revealing clue if a 
smile is genuine or manufactured is in the eyes.

Look at the muscles that surround the eye socket.  The 
Zygomaticus major muscle running from the cheekbone at an angle to the corner of the lips indicates a sincere smile

Although these are strong signs, you should always 
look for other body language and voice tone signals.

There is no substitute for knowledge.  Knowing how to 
interpret lying signals and how to apply the right techniques to confirm your suspicions will amplify your success dramatically


Recognizing A Lie

How to Detect Lies

Watching facial expressions in order to determine whether a person is lying might just save you from being a victim of fraud, or it could help you figure out when somebody's being genuine.  Jury analysts do this when assisting in jury selection.  The police do this during an interrogation.  You have to learn the little facial and body expressions that can help you distinguish a lie from the truth.

When a person lies, his or her body may undergo physical changes such as:

  • increased heartbeat stuttering
  • increased breathing sweating
  • higher vocal pitch irregular face/body movements
  • Other indicators that could indicate that someone is lying include:
    • avoiding eye contact; fidgeting arms, hands, and fingers
    • reduced blinking; mouth/face touching
    • head scratching

Although many of these general "indicators" have been associated with lying, not all people who are lying exhibit them.  Even more importantly, not all people who exhibit them are telling lies.

Movement: Less than Usual

Watch for physical rigidity.  Except in cases where people are nervous or shy, jerky movements and stiffness indicate dishonesty.  Don't expect to see sincere "open hand over the heart" gestures from them; people tend to gesticulate much less than usual when they're stretching the truth.  As for facial expressions, if nothing but the mouth communicates feeling, that feeling is probably being faked.  The entire face should show true emotion - eyebrows and all.

Contact: Hands and Faces

Beware the meaning of hand-to-face contact.  Scratching, covering, or rubbing of the eyes, ears, nose, and throat are telltale signs that someone is telling a lie.  Another popular pointer claims that when people avoid eye contact, they are typically lying.  On the other hand, those who stare into your eyes and rarely blink could be trying to avoid that revealing lack of eye contact.  The bottom line: facial expressions, gestures, and eye contact that don't seem natural probably aren't.

Timing: Out of Tune

Noticing abnormal timing is a crucial part of lie detection.  When others' facial expressions don't match their words or body language, they could very well be deceiving others.  Someone who declares, "That was delicious!" with a blank expression, then follows up with a smile, is not likely to be telling the truth.  Physical and verbal communication should always be in tune with each other.  That's not something easily forced by most people.

Banter: Defensive or Offensive?

Generally, someone who is lying will get defensive (e.g.  "Why are you asking me?  Are you really accusing me of lying?").  On the contrary, an honest person will get offensive; more polite and playful (e.g.  "I don't have a reason to lie to you.  Can you think of one?").  Those on the defensive often avoid answering questions by asking more questions, or by implying their answers.  When false explanations are offered, they tend to include unnecessary details galore.

Body language and speech patterns speak louder than words.  When people are lying, their facial expressions and gestures expose the truth, but only to those who know the signs of dishonesty:

Personal Space

Gauge how close someone is to you.  The closer they are, the warmer their opinions are of you.  The farther away that someone is, the less they care.  It is worth noting that personal space is culturally fluid; be aware that what is considered close in one country is far away in another.

Watch Their Head Position

Overly tilted heads are potential signs of sympathy.  Alternatively, the person is trying to convince you of their honesty.

Lowered heads indicate a reason to hide something.  Take note if someone lowers their head.  If it is when he is complimented, he may be shy, ashamed, timid, keeping distance from the other person, in disbelief, or thinking to himself.  If it is after an explanation, then he may be unsure if what he said was correct.

It should be noted that some cultures see this as a sign of respect.

Cocked heads mean that they are confused or challenging you, depending on eye, eyebrow, and mouth gestures.

The Eyes Play A Very Important Part

Dilated pupils mean that the person is interested.  Keep in mind, however, that alcohol causes pupils to dilate, as does cocaine, amphetamines, MDMA and LSD.  Don't mistake having a few drinks for attraction.

Looking to the side means that the person feels guilty.

When you ask somebody where they were, look very carefully at the way they look.  If they look to the right, they are recalling an event or a memory, meaning that they are telling the truth.  However, if they look to the left, they are making something up (this is why people look to the left when they are daydreaming, but to the right when they are remembering).  Especially if you are interrogating, look out for people doing this when they try to give an alibi.

Look Into Their Eyes

Liars will consecutively look at you and look away a number of times.  You can actually learn specifically how to observe behavior to judge whether someone is lying.  However, some liars will make more eye contact than usual in an attempt to make you believe they are telling you the truth.

People who look away while supposedly listening to you are thinking about something else.  This is why when you are talking to a group of people, if an item in conversation strikes the one looking away, they will ask for you to repeat the story.

Some cultures believe that looking at someone in the eyes is a sign of disrespect.

Auditory learners may look from side-to-side and repeat phrases in an effort to retain information.

See if they're mirroring you.  Mirroring is another common gesture.  If someone mirrors, or mimics your appearance, this is a very genuine sign that they are interested in you.

Check Their Arms

People with crossed arms are closing themselves to social influence.  The worst thing that you can do to people with crossed arms is to challenge them in one way or another, no matter how they react.  This annoys them.  Though some people just cross their arms as a habit, it may indicate that the person is (slightly) reserved, uncomfortable with their weight (therefore trying to hide it), or just trying to hide something on their shirt.

If someone rests their arms behind their neck, they are open to what is being discussed and interested in listening more.  They may be waiting to state their opinion on the matter.

Look at the location of their hands.  If their hands are in their pockets, then they are more relaxed and are more likely to be attracted to you.

Be Aware of Nervous Gestures

If someone brushes their hair back with their fingers, their thoughts about something conflict with yours.  They might not voice this.  If you see raised eyebrows during this time, you can be pretty sure that they disagree with you.

If they are playing or fiddling with their hair (a girl may twirl a lock of her tresses around a finger), they are feeling self-conscious and possibly uncomfortable.

If someone is biting their lip, they are anticipating something or holding back.

If the person wears glasses, and is constantly pushing them up onto their nose again, with a slight frown, that may also indicate they disagree with what you are saying.  Look to make sure they push up their glasses with an intent, not casually adjusting them.  Look for pushing on the rim with two fingers, or an extra motion of wiggling the side of their glasses.  The frown or raised eyebrows should tip you off.

Lowered eyebrows and squinted eyes illustrate an attempt at understanding what is being said or going on.  It's usually skeptical. 

Watch Their Feet

A fast tapping, shifting of weight, or movement of the foot will most often mean that the person is excited, nervous, scared, or intimidated.

Slowly shifting weight usually means that someone is distracted, uncomfortable, or bored.

Attitude: Sweet or Sour?

Liars often become ornery to drive away conflict.  If accused, they may make accusations of their own, sometimes changing the subject completely.  One example of the attention diversion method: "I did not steal your shirt, and I can't believe you called me a bad name!"  This statement would take the attention off the accused thief, and place it on the accuser for something entirely different: name-calling.  Liars who get away with this are as crafty as they are dishonest.


What to Watch For

Here is what to watch for when a person is lying to you when face-to-face: (Also make sure you don't do these things!)

  • Eye contact breaks away from you and eyes may squint or close.
  • Hand-to-face touching increased, throat, especially nose rubbing, scratch behind ear and mouth covering.
  • Untrue answers to questions are slightly delayed.  Timing will be off between emotional gestures and their words.
  • Crossed arms and/or legs.
  • Fast talking.
  • Inconsistent story.
  • Nostrils may open wider ('flare').
  • Increased blinking
  • Acting nervous or fidgety.
  • Voice is higher pitched.
  • Body and face become stiffer.  Jerky movements and stiffness are dead giveaways.
  • Face and hands becomes a bit paler as blood is withheld from extremities.  (A sign of high stress.)
  • Breathing deeper and maybe audible.
  • Lips become thinner and tighter.
  • Shoulders pulled up and elbows pulled in to sides more.  Body takes up less space.
  • Forehead tightens up a little in area between eyebrows.
  • Heart rate increases.
  • Read the eyes
  • Consider why they would lie to you.
  • Hand palms turned down or closed, and not revealed to you.


Example of A Liar



In the top row two pictures, the actress is in a theater scene where she is describing how much she loves a male character in the play.  During this time the two actors were really in love in real life off-stage.  In the first two pictures, the script words she is speaking are very close to how she really feels about the other actor in real life.  Her words are the truth about her feelings.  She is not lying.  Here she is telling the truth and has her normal smiling, open-eyed way of expressing a truthfully delightful experience.

However, shortly before the scene was re-shot for the third time (bottom two pictures) the two actors had a big fight backstage.  Therefore this time when she speaks her script words about the play's character (the same as in the first pictures), the words are untrue.  She is lying and her body language exposes her real feelings toward the actor now.  The dramatic difference in body language, especially her eyes and hands, reveals that she is lying.

Compare the pictures taken before the break-up (top row) and those after the break-up (bottom row).  In all pictures she is saying the same words in the play's script but she is unaware of the differences in her body language.  In the pictures below she is lying and it shows in her very different mouth and eyes expression.  When she talks about the guy she just broke up with, her normal expressions change dramatically.  Her hands are not as open either.


The easiest way to recognize a lie: a facial expression that is incongruent with the expressed or implied feeling or preference.  There is some truth to the idea that people display or "leak" their genuine feelings when lying.  But, these genuine displays of emotion - called "micro expressions" - last only a fraction of a second.  Micro-expressions are very telling signs of true emotions.

A liar is stressed during and shortly after a lie so body language indicates stress.  The main thing that reveals a lie is a sudden change from the norm in expressions, movements, and body language.  These internal responses may last a full minute or more—far longer than the expressions themselves, which last no more than two or three seconds.  When people try to hide their emotions, their expressions may flash for one-fifteenth to one-twentieth of a second—just long enough for others to see them.

This often is indicated by self-comforting gestures with the hands such as rubbing the nose or scratching the face.  Often the palms of the hands are suddenly hidden from view.

If an expressed or implied feeling/preference is in conflict with the facial expression the facial expression is the one almost certainly showing the true emotion.

One thing you have to take into account is a possibility of a physical discomfort a person may experience in a situation in question.  Because in this case the facial expression will most certainly reflect the level of the physical pain/discomfort and has nothing to do with any other feelings the person may or may not have.  In other words, if a person seems not to feel well, forget about lie detection.

There are several reasons why there is often an inconsistency between a faked feeling or preference and a facial expression.



The one exception to the rule of incongruent facial expression is a smile.  There are different kinds of smiles, but basically they all can be divided into two groups - at-will smiles and involuntary smiles.  An at-will smile is not necessarily untruthful, although it can be.  An at-will smile cannot be relied on as an indicator of a true emotion.  
An at-will smile simply cannot be relied on as an indicator of a true emotion.  Some people use a smile as a mask, as an "invented" face of their public persona.

Polite Smile

True Smile


It's easy to spot a confident person; they will make prolonged eye contact and have a strong posture.

If people laugh excessively, it may be dishonest, or they just might be very naturally jovial, or just happy.  Use your best judgment.  Some people laugh out of nervousness.

Don't isolate yourself by constantly examining body language when interacting with people.  Otherwise, there is no reason to gain a social upper hand anyway.  This is paralysis by analysis.

Watch the face, it will usually give off a quick involuntary and sometimes subconscious twitch when something happens that irritates, excites, or amuses them.

Mimicking your actions means that the person is comfortable around you.

Try judging the person as a whole and not purely based on their body language, as it isn't always accurate.

Just because someone exhibits one or more of these signs does not mean they are lying.  The above behaviors should be compared to a person's base (normal) behavior whenever possible.

The more you get to know someone, the better you will become at recognizing their thinking style and the better you will become at knowing when they may be straying from the truth.  In the ordinary course of events, you will see a consistent pattern of eye movements.  If a person breaks their pattern, this may well suggest that they are deviating from the truth, though they may not be lying deliberately.  To test the pattern break, ask more questions to try and clarify whether the pattern break was indeed an attempt to tell a lie.

Some of the behaviors of a liar listed above also coincide with those of an extremely shy person, who might not be lying at all.

Some of the behaviors may also occur when somebody is very concentrated on speaking (for example, when the topic is sophisticated or the person is stressed).

Botox or other plastic surgery may also interfere with 'tells' and give false positives.

Some people may have reputations for lying; keep this in mind, but don't let it mask your opinions all the time.  You have to take it on a case-by-case basis.

Some people are extremely experienced or even professional liars.  He or she has told their made up story so many times that they are actually believable, getting all their days, dates and times down perfectly! Sometimes, you may need to simply accept that you can't catch every lie all the time.

If it can't be true, it probably isn't.  For example, if you ask somebody whether they broke your vase, and they say an elephant did it, they probably aren't telling the truth.


Unfortunately, there are always exceptions.  Some people's body language cues are not a representation of how they feel.  This is where your instincts must decide.

There are wide cultural differences, so body language will differ in other countries.

Some people know how to control their body and are able to project false, misleading signs, such as thieves, actors, or other good liars.

Be careful of how often you appraise others' truthfulness.  If you are always looking for lies, people may avoid you.  Remember that eye contact is considered rude in some cultures, so this may explain why they are reluctant to look at you in the eye consistently.

Some people with developmental disabilities like Autism or Asperger's syndrome are very reluctant to make eye contact or do not make eye contact at all.  This is a trait of the Autism spectrum and not a sign of dishonesty.  Also, some people like to stare at you eye-to-eye.

Forcing a smile is often just an attempt to be polite; don't take this personally.  If someone fakes a smile for you, it can also mean that they want to make a good impression on you because they value you as a person and are showing respect.

Someone who is deaf, or hard-of-hearing, may need to watch your mouth instead of your eyes, in order to lip read or better understand what you are saying.

Liars Are Normally Under Stress.

The first thing to make clear is that body language and facial expressions are good indicators of when a person is lying but the indicators are not foolproof. Periodically everyone tells 'little fibs'.

To detect lying, watch for signs of stress in body language and facial expressions.  Stress may not show up if the person really wishes the facts were as described or they can rationalize that their story really should be as described.  They delay a few seconds longer when answering a question with an answer that is not truthful.  Truthful answers come sooner than untrue answers.

appearance, this is a very genuine sign that they are interested in you.

How to Detect Lies

Watching facial expressions in order to determine whether a person is lying might just save you from being a victim of fraud, or it could help you figure out when somebody's being genuine.  Jury analysts do this when assisting in jury selection.  The police do this during an interrogation.  You have to learn the little facial and body expressions that can help you distinguish a lie from the truth.


Learn to recognize deflections.  Usually when people are lying, they will tell stories that are true but are deliberately aimed at not answering the question you asked.  If a person responds to the question "Did you ever hit your wife?" with an answer such as "I love my wife, why would I do that?", the suspect is technically telling a truth, but they are avoiding answering your original question, which usually means they're lying.

Notice the behavior of other body parts.  Watch their hands, arms and legs, which tend to be limited, stiff, and self-directed when the person is lying.  Their hands may touch their face, ear, or the back of the neck.  These are, however, a sign of nervousness, not a sign of deceit.  They might not necessarily be nervous because they're lying.

Look out for microexpressions.  Microexpressions are facial expressions that flash on a person's face for a fraction of a second and reveal the person's true emotion underneath their facade.  Some people may be naturally sensitive to them, but almost anybody can easily train to be able to detect microexpressions.  Typically, in a person who is lying, their microexpression will exhibit the emotion of distress, characterized by the eyebrows being draw upwards towards the middle of the forehead (sometimes causing short lines to appear across the forehead skin).

Check for sweating.  People tend to sweat more when they lie.  (However, some people may sweat a lot more during nervousness/shyness.)

Mind exaggerated details.  See if they are telling you too much, like "My mom is living in France, isn't it nice there? Don't you like the Eiffel tower? It's so clean there." Too many details may tip you off to their desperation to get you to believe them.

Notice the person's eye movements.  Contrary to popular belief, a liar does not always avoid eye contact.  Humans naturally break eye contact and look at non-moving objects to help them focus and remember.  Liars may deliberately make eye contact to seem more sincere.

Be Aware of Their Emotional Responses

Timing and duration tends to be off when someone is lying.  Emotions can be delayed, remain longer than usual, then stop suddenly.  Likewise, they might not match appropriately with verbal statements.  And, as with smiling, facial expressions of a poor liar will be limited to the mouth area.

Pay close attention to the person's reaction to your questions.  A liar will often feel uncomfortable and turn their head or body away, or even subconsciously put an object between the two of you.  Also, while an innocent person would go on the offensive (usually responding with anger, which will usually be revealed in a micro-expression directly after you say you don't believe them), a guilty person will often go immediately on the defensive (usually by saying something to reassure their facts, such as deflections).

Listen for a subtle delay in responses to questions.  An honest answer comes quickly from memory.  Lies require a quick mental review of what they have told others to avoid inconsistency and to make up new details as needed.  There is, however, when people look up to remember things, it does not necessarily mean that they are lying.

Be conscious of their usage of words.  Verbal expression can give many clues as to whether a person is lying, such as

  • Using/repeating your own exact words when answering a question
  • Not using contractions
  • Avoiding direct statements or answers (deflections)
  • Speaking excessively in an effort to convince
  • Speaking in a monotonous tone
  • Leaving out pronouns (he, she, it, etc.)
  • Speaking in muddled sentences
  • Using humor and sarcasm to avoid the subject
  • Allow silence to enter the conversation.

If they're lying, they will become uncomfortable if you stare at them for a while with a look of disbelief.  If they're telling the truth, they will usually become angry or just frustrated (lips pressed together, brows down, upper eyelid tensed and pulled down to glare).

Change the subject quickly.  While an innocent person would be confused by the sudden shift in the conversation and may try to return to the previous subject, a liar will be relieved and welcome the change.  You may see the person become more relaxed and less defensive.

Watch his or her throat.  A person may constantly be either trying to lubricate their throat when he/she lies by swallowing or clearing their throat to relieve the tension built up.  A person's voice can also be a good lie indicator; they may suddenly start talking faster or slower than normal, or their tension may result in a higher-pitched speaking tone.

Lying Is Not Easy

Another thing to watch for to detect lying is a sudden change in movements.  The liar tends to shut down and tries to maintain control of the situation and in so doing becomes quieter and stops normal body movements until you have accepted the lie.  A liar may leave out pronouns and speak in a monotonous tone.  This heighten tension may cause the eyes to increase blink rate also.  Any spoken words during and immediately after the lie will come harder and there may be more than normal mispronunciations and stutters.  The liar is more defensive than usual and also may place objects (cups, keys, pencils, chairs etc.) between self and others.

Since tension is high in liars, they need some self-comforting.  They stroke their hair and touch their face more frequently and harder than usual.  Scratching and rubbing their nose is common in liars but don't accuse all nose-rubbers of being liars! The best overall liar detection clue is a sudden change in posture and movements from the normal patterns for a short time until you have accepted what is said.  If you believe someone is lying, change the subject quickly and watch their reactions.  A liar will follow along willingly and become more relaxed.  The guilty wants the subject changed but an innocent person may be confused by the sudden change and will want to go back to the previous subject.

How To Detect Lying and Deception by a Romantic Partner

Most people want to know how to catch a liar.

So, it should come as no surprise that decades of research has been done on this subject.

And many of the findings uncovered actually run counter to what most people believe.

Nonverbal Signs of Lying

Nonverbal cues identified represent "on average" what might happen when studying many individuals rather than identifying what any specific individual is likely to do.  Most of the research on the nonverbal signs of lying is driven by the belief that deception is difficult to conceal because

  • lying takes more mental effort than telling the truth
  • emotions give people away when lying
  • lying causes more stress and anxiety

When Lying People Are More Likely To

  • offer shorter responses
  • make more speech errors - more um's, er's ah's...
  • blink more
  • fidget more

What Mistakes Do People Make When Trying to Detect Deception?

Asking "probing" questions actually makes it more difficult to determine if the truth is being told.

Questions such as



Are you sure?

How did that happen?

Accidental Discovery:


Monitoring a Spouse

In most cases, deception and infidelity are uncovered by mistake.  A husband or wife decides to come home from work early, a third party inadvertently reveals the truth, an unpaid parking ticket reveals a spouse's true whereabouts, an e-mail exchange is accidentally sent to the wrong person, and so on.

Surveillance, by comparison, is an attempt to discover the truth by monitoring a spouse's behavior.  If you're dealing with a lying and/or cheating spouse, some type of surveillance is almost always needed.

Practical Tips for Catching Lying and Cheating

Keep a journal of your spouse's reported activities.  Write down the times, dates, places, other people involved, excuses given, etc.  Your journal will become invaluable as you compare what's said with phone bills, credit card statements, atm withdrawals, talk to other people, etc.  A cheating spouse is likely to change his or her story, or question your memory, so keeping a record of everything is critical.

Keep track of all incoming phone calls.  Record the time and number of all calls.

Plan a surprise visit to work, or come home at unexpected times, or make announcements about having to work late, but then come home early, etc.

Keep track of your spouse's mileage, receipts, credit card statements, atm withdrawals, phone records, etc.

If you can, check your spouse's call log.  Look for an unusual amount of phone calls.  Keep in mind that cheating spouses often store their lover's phone number under someone else's name: a friend, a co-worker, etc.

You can also purchase surveillance equipment (hidden cameras and voice activated recorders) or download computer monitoring software (keylogger) which will make it easier for you to monitor your spouse's activities. Using such equipment can, however, can raise some legal issues.

Never confront your spouse until you're certain that you have enough evidence to make your case. And never reveal all of your evidence at once.  Most cheating spouses will try to concoct a story to fit the evidence presented.  But, if you withhold some evidence, and let your spouse create a story, it gives you the opportunity to use the remaining evidence as leverage.  And by strategically withholding evidence, your spouse will start to question exactly how much you know, increasing the odds that he or she will tell you the truth.

Overall, if you find anything suspicious, do not confront your spouse until you're certain that you have enough evidence to get a confession.  
And again, think for a minute about how your spouse might try to dismiss your accusations.  If you can anticipate how your spouse is likely to respond, you can try to gather the evidence you need to counter what he or she says.  

Finally, listed below are several more techniques, products, and services designed to help you catch a lying and cheating spouse.

Resources and Information for Catching a Lying, Cheating Husband or Wife

Computer Monitoring Software - allows you to see everything your spouse does online.  Establish a record of all online activities.

GPS Tracking Devices - purchase a global positioning satellite device that can track a vehicle's exact location 24 hours a day.

Home Surveillance Equipment - hidden cameras and voice activated recording devices can be purchased in every shape and size imaginable.

Comprehensive Background Checks - do you think your boyfriend or girlfriend is lying to you about the past?  A background check can reveal a lot about a person's past.

Private Investigators - hiring a licensed investigator is the quickest and most effective way to discover the truth.

In most cases, the options listed above are very effective when trying to discover the truth about a cheating spouse.


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