It is impossible to catch a liar every time, but there are numerous methods to increase the chance of catching a liar. Here, five experts teach you how to catch a liar in the act.
A Person’s Demeanor or Voice Radically Changes
As an investigator, I first try to assess how someone normally speaks. To do that, I begin an interview by asking questions that I know the answers to, like “What’s your full name?” or “Where do you live?” Some folks are naturally animated and talk fast; others are more subdued. Once I know which type of talker a person is, I start asking him questions that I don’t know the answer to. If his manner shifts abruptly—going from calm to agitated or lively to mellow—chances are he’s not telling the truth.
A Person Avoids Saying “I”
In my research, I’ve discovered that when people lie about themselves, they tend to use I and me less often than people who are being truthful. Instead, they’ll speak about themselves in the third person (“This is a girl who loves to dance”) or even truncate their language (“Really into listening to jazz”)—anything to give themselves psychological distance from the lie.
A Person Has an Answer for Everything
Ask most people what they were doing last week and they’ll have to pause and think about it. That’s even more true of teenagers, who generally don’t have the capacity to tell an elaborate story on the fly. So when I call a child into my office and he seems totally rehearsed—there’s zero hesitation before he answers a question—well, that’s a dead giveaway.
A Person Fidgets and Fusses for No Reason
If someone keeps performing a random physical action that seems unnecessary—cleaning his/her glasses excessively, retying their shoelaces, or dusting off the (clean) table in front of them—he/she may be lying. The guilt and anxiety makes them restless. That can be particularly true if they are lying to somebody they love. When a person fibs to a traffic police, they won’t necessarily fidget a lot. But if they are deceiving their wife/husband, they won’t be able to sit still.
A Person Proclaims His Honesty Repeatedly
To sell us on the integrity of their answers, liars often use phrases emphasizing the validity of their statements, like “to tell the truth” and “to be perfectly honest.” These verbal tip-offs frequently invoke religion. Think of expressions like “I swear on a stack of Bibles” and “as God is my witness.” Most truthful people don’t need to go that far.