|How To Be Liar Hunter|
|Written by Egypt Eve|
|Saturday, 07 April 2012 12:28|
The signs are crystal clear — 72% of people can spot a fib immediately (not really, I just made that up)
Can you tell when someone is not telling the truth? Maybe you don’t think it’s a necessary skill to have — your family, friends and colleagues are trustworthy, right? Consider then, these results from a recent study:
According to [German philosopher] Nietzsche, ‘the lie is a condition of life’. Pamela Meyer, a certified fraud examiner and author of Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception, claims that we hear 20–200 lies per day. She must work in politics, you say. Not so. “Liespotting is what I call the critical modern skill you need to take back the truth in a world cluttered with spam, fake digital friends, doctored résumés, massaged numbers, partisan media, ingenious identity thieves and world-class Ponzi schemers. You need it because sophisticated modern technology and the instant nature of contemporary communications have multiplied the opportunities for lying and deception to the point where it is now an epidemic.”
TELL ME SWEET LITTLE LIES
Some lies are no more than a social lubricant — designed to smooth day-to-day interactions. You know the type: ‘Your bum does NOT look big in those jeans’, ‘I don’t think that haircut makes you look like Justin Bieber’ or the ever-popular ‘Of course I don’t mind’. But when it comes to business, politics and romance, it’s best to know the truth.
Unfortunately, spotting a lie is not as simple as looking out for a flaming pair of pants or a telltale Pinocchio nose. And, contrary to popular belief, the ‘classic signs’ (avoiding eye contact, sweating or nervous fidgeting) are not foolproof indicators.
The other problem is that we rarely find out that we’ve been lied to right away, so we can’t usually recall whether the person displayed ‘tells’ at the time.
FOOL ME ONCE…
The best defence is to learn who tends to lie and why. Research has shown that extroverted, confident people are more likely to lie (and be skilled at it) than introverts, those in a position of power are more prone to lying, and we generally feel more at ease lying to someone we see as being deceptive themselves.
Some types of relationships (such as those between parents and teens) are also more prone to being deceptive. Psychologist Bella DePaulo found that college students lie to their mothers in one out of two conversations.
Lies are usually either offensive or defensive. Offensive lies are all about obtaining something (perhaps bribing someone to clinch a deal), creating a positive impression (embellishing on a funny story or lying about your achievements). Defensive lying is about avoiding punishment or embarrassment, or protecting someone — one of the main reasons women lie.
HERE ARE SOME GENERAL TIPS ON SPOTTING A LIE:
Traditional wisdom says a liar will avoid eye contact or look away. But a skilled liar makes direct eye contact to appear authentic — magicians, for instance. In a normal, honest conversation, we onaly make eye contact 60 per cent of the time, says Meyer. If someone is staring you down or checking your face to see how you’re responding to what they’re saying, beware. “They try to read you to see if you’re buying their story,” says psychology professor R Edward Geiselman, who has taught investigative interviewing techniques to detectives and FBI intelligence officers. Other non-verbal clues include: freezing of the upper body, rise in vocal pitch/change in speech pattern, dilated pupils and post-interview relief; a sigh, a smile or change in posture.
Pause and repeat
When forced to make up a story on the spot, the person will often repeat the question to buy time, or pause to collect their thoughts. If they had time to rehearse a response, the answer might be almost too perfect, delivered without hesitation. Police officers often ask suspects to repeat their stories, and listen for inconsistencies. A lie is usually less detailed — after all, the less you say, the less chance there is of it coming back to haunt you.
Word for word
Some experts, however, claim that the real clues lie in the words people use. Psychology professor James Pennebaker highlights two primary markers:
Fewer first-person pronouns and references to themselves — Liars often distance themselves psychologically from the lie by avoiding words indicating involvement, such as ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘my’.
More negative emotion words — Pennebaker says liars are generally more anxious and often feel guilty. They use fewer exclusionary words, such as ‘except’, ‘but’ or ‘nor’ — words that separate what they did do from what they didn’t do.
You could be the most accomplished fibber and lying through your teeth but you better hope Dr Cal Lightman is nowhere around — because the star of the Fox TV-produced Lie to Me series (brilliantly played by Tim Roth) isn’t a walking, talking polygraph tester. He’s far, far more — and unnervingly so.
When Lie to Me first came out in 2009, the show wasn’t really breaking new ground in terms of TV genres but critics soon found they couldn’t write it off as “just another police procedural” either. For those with a natural curiosity for seeing through people or reading between the lines, it was “say no more”.
In the series (that ran just three seasons before being cancelled in May last year), Dr Lightman is called upon by local and federal intelligence agencies to assist them on cases — involving everything from copycat serial killers on the loose to runaway spouses — with his deception detection skills.
His character is based on the real-life scientific studies of Dr Paul Ekman, a psychologist and body language expert at the University of California, San Francisco.
Lightman’s specialisation lies in microexpressions — those that flash across your face for just a second before you can arrange it right to pretend you’re telling the truth. And in order to read those expressions, he uses all sorts of aggressive and confrontational interviewing tactics to break one’s poker face — or as he puts it to his “lippy” teenage daughter, Emily: “I shake people up until they lose control and forget to hide their emotions. NOT the same as bullying at all.”
Together with the nurturing Dr Gillian Foster (Kelli Williams), the academically trained Eli Loker (Brendan Hines) aka Mr Radical Honesty and the human lie detector Ria Torres (Monica Raymund), whose childhood abuse made her a “natural” at detecting deception — the Lightman team made a formidable foursome.
Some of their best work features in hi-adrenaline episodes such as ‘Blinded’ that sees Lightman go up against a serial rapist/ killer who may be directing one very sick fan from behind his prison walls to carry out crimes in his trademark acid attack style — the climax comes out of nowhere to hit you for a six — and ‘The Core of It’, in which Lightman has to get at the ‘core’ of a woman with dissociative personality disorder to demystify her vision of a murder that the cops won’t take seriously.
The show is a fascinating study into the human psyche — and the lengths some of us will go to keep the truth from ever being told. So, the next time someone answers too quickly, makes too much eye contact, licks their lips or touches their hair when explaining themselves to you — take note. There’s a science to it all.
Are you a bigger liar than you thought?
Everyone lies — and anyone who spins you varying versions of the I-don’t-lie or have-never-lied shpeel is possibly the biggest storyteller of them all. Studies show that the average person lies up to 2-3 times a day — that’s more than 1,000 times a year! — and that men tend to have a more liberal relationship with what they consider ‘telling the truth’ than women are. Here’s a quick quiz to find out how masterful you are when it comes to spinning the webs of deceit.
1. If your mum stumbles upon a pack of cigarettes (or other sure-to-shock object) while cleaning out your desk drawer, would you:
a. Say it is your friend’s (“I’ve “NO idea how it got there!”)
b. Distract her with the sparrow practising suicide jumps outside the window
c. Sit her down for a ‘talk’
2. When someone you promised to call (but didn’t) finally catches hold of you, would you:
a. Insist you’ve been trying forever but couldn’t get through
b. Say there was no signal — all of the UAE’s power lines were down
c. Smack your forehead and apologise profusely because you forgot
3. When someone gifts you a horrid shirt you’d sooner wipe the floor with, would you:
a. Place hand over heart and gush all over the “thoughtful” present as you pretend not to cry
b. Attempt to make the gifter try it on instead because it sets off his/her eyes
c. Launch into a speech about how it’s the thought that counts
4. When you’re mad at someone and they ask you what’s wrong, would you:
a. Slam doors and cupboards before snapping: “Pissed off? With you? Of course not, I’m perfectly fine.”
b. Ask him/her to pass the salt
c. Sing OneRepublic’s ‘It’s too late to apologise’
5. When your boss asks why you were late to work, would you:
a. Invent a traffic jam involving an eight-car pile-up, rubber-burning ambulances and a helicopter that landed on the road right in front of you
b. Compliment your boss’s new tie/ hairdo
c. Swear the late Saturday night party won’t happen again
6. When someone with a reputation for borrowing (and not returning) calls you up for a ‘favour’, would you:
a. Apologise that you don’t have the amount on you now but would be glad to let him/her have it “next week”
b. Tell him/her you’re camping out at the office these days and probably won’t be free to meet for another seven months
c. Ask if you look like his/her bank manager
7. When people you don’t fancy ask you for your number, would you:
a. Give them the number of the local zoo
b. Discreetly whisper they have something stuck in their teeth
c. Inform them you’re changing numbers shortly but the world is round so you’re sure to bump into each other again
8. When the niece of a friend of a cousin asks you for help finding a job, would you:
a. Assure her you’ll do your very best (“Don’t call me, I’ll call you”)
b. Say your computer shuts down every time you try to open her resume
c. Blame it on the industry (“Only firing, no hiring right now”)
9. When you’re asked how the poorly cooked dish at your partner’s favourite restaurant is, would you:
a. Make vague appreciative noises with a mouth full of food you can’t bear to swallow
b. Shoot out of your chair without warning and attempt the Heimlich manoeuvre on the nearest waiter
c. Promise you’ll never complain about her cooking again
10. When your spouse or significant other asks you if she looks fat in that dress (and you think she does), do you:
a. Scoff and say: “Body like that ought to be insured, babe”
b. Pretend you can’t hear or (better still) are having a coronary
c. Man up and call a spade a spade (at the risk of being hit with one)