PSYCHOLOGY

How To Detect Lies: Facial Expressions That “Scream” A Person Is Lying

Date November 11, 2019 12:41

Have you ever lied to someone to ensure that your relationship survived? Perhaps a co-worker, friend, or even a family member? While words might be deceiving, our facial expressions convey our truest inner desires and intentions. If you are a keen observer, you can learn how to tell if someone is lying.

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Darwin discussed that for humans, there are few muscles that are impossible to activate voluntarily, meaning that they are hard to fake intentionally. A study of these micro-expressions can help people in detecting lies and identifying the truthful message behind someone’s words.

4 facial expressions that show a person is lying

Many people claim that they can tell if someone is lying by listening to their “guts” and experts think that “gut reactions” are uncanny accurate judgments based on nonverbal cues we can see.

Facial asymmetry

Our bodies don’t often listen to our words and it’s possible to tell if someone is lying by studying their noticeable asymmetry. For instance, when someone smiles to express their joy or happiness but they are sad, their eyes can tell the opposite. If the eyes look like they are about to cry despite a wide smile, then that person is definitely lying.

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Lip biting

As they say, “lips don’t lie” and psychologists study lip movements as an indicator of stress during lying. When someone bites their lip at the center or the side, they do this to comfort or stop themselves from saying something, probably the truth. In this instance, biting the lip can be a suppressing action, especially if accompanied by raised eyebrows or wide eyes.

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Dilated pupils

Pupil dilation is another useful indicator of lying and enlarged pupils are considered a sign that someone is making up a reply. Pupils enlarge when the brain is working hard, so if they get bigger, someone is trying hard to match tell a different story from the truth.

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Frequent swallowing

When a person is anxious, they often look for something that can distract them and a common solution is to swallow something, maybe food or drink. Frequent swallowing, therefore, is another indicator that someone is lying because they feel stressed or anxious.

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What do to when someone lies

But what do you do when someone lies? While it’s hard to accept that someone is lying to you, knowing how to react can help you process the hurtful truth until you are able to correctly tackle it. Here are suggestions on how you can react when someone lies:

  • Do nothing
  • Deflect with humor
  • Play dumb
  • Call them out on the lie
  • Protect yourself from the lair.

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Lies are often considered a necessary evil since while they are detestable, they can be necessary for navigating our complex social worlds. While there’s no foolproof way to identify liars, being keen to the smallest details can help you know where you stand.

What do you think of the 4 strategies for identifying lies? Do you feel that lies can be necessary at times?


The material in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the advice of a certified specialist.

Psychology