Well Being

10 Physical Signs That Someone Is Lying To You

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Richard NixonHow do you spot a liar if their pants are not on fire?

No one likes being lied to. Wouldn't it be excellent to be able to just smell a lie as it comes out of someone's lying mouth? Yes, if you're kind of paranoid and think everyone is lying to you.

Lie detection is not at perfect art. Experts have managed to pin down some signals of dishonestly, but even the most technologically up to date polygraph can be deceived by skilled fibbers. Since you're likely not a forensic specialist dealing with a sociopath and just want to know if your friends and family are pulling fast ones on you, here are 10 physical clues that indicate someone is lying to you:

  1. It's all in the eyes. Either too much or too little eye contact. Liars typically avoid eye contact, but if you feel like they're creepily staring you down, “they may be working hard at lying” and are checking to see if you bought their lie.
  2. Smiling Faces tell lies and I've got proof. Liars employ fake smiles, learning to tell the difference can help you spot a liar.
  3. Grooming like a pretty monkey. Liars might mollify their anxiety by grooming themselves or their immediate surroundings. Some examples: adjusting spectacles, tucking hair behind the year, futzing with jewelry or ties, cleaning up a spill, mopping their brow.
  4. The devil is in the wrong details. Liars pick an insignificant detail and blow it up to make it seem like they know what they're talking about. It helps them avoid discussion of the real issue at hand.
  5. The body will face the truth. A liar might turn their head or body away from the person they are deceiving, facing them might be too uncomfortable.
  6. The nose knows. Some research indicates that when people lie, they touch the base of their nose a lot. Perhaps to cover their lying mouths. shows that when people lie, they tend to touch the base of their nose a lot.  Dr. Phil calls the nose-touch “a dead giveaway.”
  7. If they're being suspiciously still, they might be lying. When lying, a liar might “freeze their upper body” rather than fidgeting while fibbing.
  8. Don't forget the feet. Liars will often point their feet where they want to go: out the exit and away from this third degree.
  9. Break down the barricade. Liars will often block themselves off physically from someone asking them about their lie. Imagine them holding a large book or leaning back.
  10. GULP. A significant swallow or clearing of the throat prior to answering a question sets off liar liar pants on fire alarms for CIA agents. Why? Well, it might be that “physiologically, the question might have created a spike in anxiety, which can cause discomfort or dryness in the mouth and throat.”

Think you're already a decent human lie detector? Take this New York Times test to assess your abilities.

Image via Getty