Lying is one of the most common and pervasive social behaviors in the world. From little white lies to big lies such as cheating on one’s partner or financial fraud, lying is present in every culture around the world. It has also been adopted as a popular theme by Hollywood which likes to over-stress the use of polygraph tests and exaggerate the physical responses a liar exhibits, such as fidgeting, speaking too quickly, and sweating profusely.
In this list, we’re bringing you just the cold, hard, scientific facts. Be careful though – while the facts on this list are based on science, they cannot necessarily be used as definitive proof that someone is lying to you. (For instance, if someone clears their throat, maybe they just haven’t had a drink of water in a while.) The combination of multiple factors on this list and comparing what someone says to the objective truth is what will help you know if a person is lying. After all, lie detector machines aren’t even right 100% of the time. Some people are able to control their lying or minimize the cues given while lying.
So, even though they shouldn’t be used to condemn someone right off the bat, the facts on this list can help if you suspect someone is being untrustworthy. See if you can spot any liars or fibbers with these 25 Ways to Know Someone is Lying to You.
Clearing the throat
When we lie, our bodies prepare for a fight-or-flight (stay-and-fight or run) scenario. To do this, our bodies wick moisture away from our throats and send it to our skin; if you suspect someone is lying, they may clear their throat to alleviate the dryness.
Similarly, all the extra moisture now present in the skin starts coming out as sweat, giving rise to the cartoon image of liars overheating and sweating profusely.
Sliding the jaw
To get moisture back in the throat, liars often make subconscious movements which give them away. To stimulate the salivary glands to produce saliva, they can open their mouths and move the jaw left and right. Take a look at someone you think is lying to see if they show this behavior.
Telling bare bones stories
If someone recounts a story with just the basic outline, they may be lying. Truth tellers often use small, salient details from the story, such as the time or setting of the event they’re describing. Liars leave out these little details because they are harder to keep track of. On the flip side, liars may go into great (fake) detail when you ask them a simple question. This is a form of overcompensating for the lie by flooding the listener with details. (It should be noted that when we experience a traumatic event, our memory does not function properly and sometimes omits either sensory or verbal details. Thus, when someone is interrogated, it cannot be immediately assumed they are lying if they have trouble remembering what happened.)
Thinking too hard
When we are under a greater cognitive load (such as doing calculus rather than simple addition), it takes us longer to think and process information. This greater load can lead to slower, choppy storytelling which seems to cause the person to think too hard.