Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Are they lying? The surprising new ways to tell if someone is being dishonest

ThinkstockPhotos-488052914.jpg

Looking someone in the eye and lying to them is apparently much easier than Hollywood films and politicians have led us to believe.

Researchers who watched hundreds of hours of video footage of lying criminals in high-profile court cases have found that fibbers share a surprising selection of common tells.

A team at the University of Michigan discovered that far from averting their gaze, people actually make more eye contact when they lie.

Being dishonest also makes people scowl and use their hands more.

The study found people share these traits when lying:

  • Move their hands a lot
  • Scowl or grimace their whole face
  • Use fillers such as "um," "uh" and "ah" 
  • Try to sound more certain
  • Look their questioners in the eye more often than those telling the truth

"People are poor lie detectors," says study leader Dr Rada Mihalcea, professor of computer science and engineering. "This isn't the kind of task we're naturally good at."

"There are clues that humans give naturally when they are being deceptive, but we're not paying close enough attention to pick them up," she adds. "We're not counting how many times a person says 'I' or looks up. We're focusing on a higher level of communication."

couple

"I adore your new purple shirt," says Emma, staring deep into Mark's eyes

The team examined footage from witnesses and defendants in 120 court cases and based their honesty on the outcomes of the trials. They have now developed the first lie-detecting software that examines words and gestures and doesn't require hooking people up to machines.

In tests, the software correctly identified when people were lying in 75% of cases, while humans can generally catch out lies only 50% of the time.

While previous findings have indicated that people tend to look away when they lie, Dr Mihalcea says it's difficult to motivate study participants to truly lie in a laboratory setting. She says her team's research is based on "real world" dishonesty where there is true motivation to deceive.

Images: Thinkstock

Related

gingerbread.jpg

Winning Christmas? The life-size gingerbread house

ThinkstockPhotos-483800191.jpg

Behold the UK's most cringeworthy office jargon

christmas_cracker_lead_v1.jpg

The Stylist Christmas cracker roadtest

book-review-a-brief-history-of-seven-killings-marlon-james-ali-smith-how-to-be-both.jpg

Book wars: A Brief History of Seven Killings versus How to be Both

fashion_style_faux_fur_high_street_4.jpg

Faking it: wrap up with this season’s fierce faux furs

exclamation mark.jpg

This one texting habit is a sign of insincerity, according to science

ThinkstockPhotos-475951130.jpg

These are the most popular beauty products of 2015

ariel-make-up.jpg

Ariel will have blonde hair in The Little Mermaid remake

serial.png

Serial is back! Listen to season two right here

Comments

More

Muslim witness of Westminster attack responds to Islamophobic trolls

A picture of the woman walking on Westminster Bridge has been shared widely

by Nicola Colyer
24 Mar 2017

Bright, beautiful and bold Easter cake inspiration

Stylish bake ideas to nick and claim as your own

by Amy Swales
24 Mar 2017

An Avengers-style Disney princesses film could be in the works

24 Mar 2017

All the new emojis set to light up our keyboards

From breastfeeding to broccoli

24 Mar 2017

There's a sex side-effect which benefits you for 48 hours, study finds

It's all about what's known as the sex "afterglow".

by Hayley Spencer
24 Mar 2017

This is how much the houses in Big Little Lies cost

Spoiler: they're VERY expensive.

by Hayley Spencer
23 Mar 2017

Scientists reveal why you need to stop flaking on plans with friends

Don't flake it 'til you make it

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Mar 2017

Revealed: the number one reason that women break up with their partner

The truth hurts

23 Mar 2017

Been zombied? There’s now a name for this confusing dating behaviour

It's time to talk about the zombies of the dating world...

23 Mar 2017

10 female anthems to share with your mum this Mother's Day

The most moving anthems about motherhood by our favourite female artists.

by Alice Vincent
23 Mar 2017