[This guest post is by Eyes for Lies who has a rare ability to discern lies from the truth. After studying deception for several decades, scientists have tested more than 15,000 people and only identified 50 people who can discern lies from the truth with great accuracy. Eyes for Lies is one of these human lie detectors , or “wizards of deception detection”. (Wizards are at least 80% accurate, but no wizard is 100%.) In her blog she applies her skills to current high-profile cases. Her exceptional accuracy is there for all to see.]
How I specifically detect lies
At first, I thought that my decision-making process and determination of a who was lying was all subconscious, because I called a liar within seconds to minutes. But after looking back and forcing myself to think out loud for over a year now, I’ve realized that there are processes that I use to detect a liar that I can consciously recollect. The processes are not set in stone like A, B, C, but rather they are random and only drawn upon when needed.
Regardless, I still process a lot of information within seconds, and I have no explanation for how I do it. I suspect it is due to my innate ability.
Most of the time, it takes me less than three minutes to determine if someone is lying when they are asked direct questions. Sometimes I can spot a liar in 20-30 seconds. However, there are times when it can take up to 10 minutes or longer.
The reason for the delay in making a call is that some liars don’t lie right away, or worse, they are pathological. Pathological liars are the trickiest of people to read, because they are without emotion and without remorse. When someone doesn’t feel remorse, nor display any emotions, I lose 50% of my clues. Furthermore, if a pathological liar is highly intelligent, he won’t mess up his facts, which makes it almost impossible for anyone to catch his falsehoods. It is the pathological liars who are highly intelligent who most often get away with the worst crimes.
According to Dr. Maureen O’Sullivan, who studies lie detection wizards, “There are two categories of clues to a lie: thinking clues and emotional ones.” (Source: Wizards” can spot the signs of a liar, AP, Oct. 14, 2004).
To further elaborate on that, specific examples of emotional clues are facial expressions, body language and spoken words. In essence, is the person reacting normally to the circumstances? Are they truly happy? Are they truly upset? Are their facial expressions consistent with what they are saying? Are they shrugging their shoulders like they don’t know when they are actually saying yes? Is their body language consistent with their words? Do their words match their emotions? Are their actions matching their projected emotion? Are their responses appropriate for how they are feeling? Do they convey how someone should feel in their situation?
While this process may sound simple, I believe it is rather complex, because to determine a liar, you must be able to answer these questions quickly, almost without thought. For most people, it is hard to spot such inconsistencies—even given the time—but for me, this process happens instantaneously. It’s almost, if not, innate.
The second set of clues are thinking clues. Thinking clues are what liars give off when they are making up the truth or trying to tell you a story they “made up” in their head. More specific examples of thinking clues are hesitations in speech, stuttering, stammering for words, weird word order, or speaking incoherently by incorrectly choosing the wrong words or not completing sentences. Other times, liars will speed up or slow down their speech. Or a liar will confuse the facts, so when added all together, the facts won’t add up. However, one or two clues alone are not enough to call a liar; it is the compilation of all the clues—emotional and thinking—that paints the broader picture of a lie.
Microexpressions are emotional clues that deserve a subtopic of its own. Microexpressions are flashes of emotions that come across the face of an individual who is lying. If someone is trying to conceal a strong emotion, it often leaks out in 1/25th of a second. This is known as a microexpression. Over ninety percent of people don’t see these.Furthermore, according to Dr. Ekman, a facial expression expert from the University of California at San Francisco, you can’t mask your true feelings. When you are happy, you smile one way. When you are mad but pretending to be happy, the muscles you use to genuinely smile are not used and other ones are. Hence, when you wonder if you saw a fake smile, you probably did!
In essence, you as a human do not have the power to activate your true happiness (smile) muscles unless you are truly happy. Wizards—scientifically proven human lie detectors—hone in on these falsehoods in expressions, according to Dr. O’Sullivan.
To me, Scott Peterson is famous, because I believe he was one of the first few microexpressionists I noted consciously. He tried to act sad and worried, yet he couldn’t help but flash microexpressions of glee. His expressions of glee only lasted for a fraction of a second, and most people didn’t even see them. Watch Scott Peterson’s famous Barbara Walters interview: Perhaps you will be one of the few who can spot them.
I also find I use a personality catalog in my head or personality-matching technique when trying to spot a liar. I don’t use it every time, and I don’t know specifically why I use this technique—I just do. This technique involves matching personalities of people I’ve known in the past to people I am observing now.
For example, if I notice that you have traits of someone else I’ve known in the past, my mind will immediately match you up with that person. The person’s face I have known in the past will just pop into my head without thought, and I will then consciously compare behaviors. If you are similar, you should act similarly. It’s amazingly powerful, though I must state I believe there are hundreds of different personality types. I’ve come to call this paralleling. Paralleling is something I don’t do by choice, people just pop into my head from memory without thought.
How down-to-earth are you? The more down-to-earth you are, the more likely you are to be honest. This technique allows me to hone in on the dishonesty much more quickly. So far, to date, these are the skills or techniques that I use within seconds to minutes to quickly spot a liar.
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Call for links, stories, articles where lie detection is needed. Do you know a story where you wonder what the truth is? If so, ask me. All that I need is a video clip with a headshot of the suspect talking, for preferably a few minutes.