The Art Of Lying    By Gerald Torto                Picture: Polygraph Security Services.

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OK, so you may not be overly paranoid, but wouldn’t it be nice to know when someone is telling you even the slightest of porkies?

Call it what you will, porkies, white lies and plain old lying through your teeth. All of the aforementioned are synonymous with the art of deceit. As beings created with an inner sense of justice though, not one of us doesn't detest being lied to, regardless of the situation or circumstance. The truth of the matter is (no pun intended...honest!) that we all at one time or another in our lives have fabricated the truth and are likely to do so again. The question that must be asked then is this: is it possible to determine when someone is lying to your face? Psychologists splutter on and on about the relationship between facial expressions, body movements and the feelings and mind-frames of people; psychology after all, is the science of human behaviour and the mind and its functions. Therefore, an elementary line of reasoning would lead one to conclude that perhaps the same science or a neighbouring 'ology' investigates the noticeable characteristics of one that is lying. Put aside the commonly assumed sweaty palm, quaking of the voice and blatant look of guilt theories. Detecting a liar entails much more than the minimal skill set of an actor playing the part of a crook on The Bill.

According to American columnist, Martha Brockenbrough, there exist three core basic tell-tell signs. These are:
1. Speaking quickly and excessive fluctuations in pitch of voice
2. Person becomes fidgety and hesitant when questioned on detail
3. Failure to make eye-contact

Nothing too perplexing about that. Yet, a good liar will be just as aware of these as the person they're lying to and thus will ensure that eye contact especially is evident. Shifty eyes can indicate that someone is feeling emotional perhaps from a lie, or perhaps just from nerves as a result of lying. Of course, this does not apply to instances where eye contact is non-existent, like during a telephone conversation. Paul Eckman, author of the book ‘Telling Lies: Clues to Detect Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage’, states that extensive use of details can make lies more believable. But they can also trip up the liar. If the details change or contradict each other, you should suspect you're being had.

There exists an intrinsic link between emotional connections and effective lying. The notion is that it is harder to lie to those whom we know well and care for. There are two reasons for this: firstly, ones close to us are more aware of our mannerisms and behavioural patterns and can more readily detect our default lying techniques. The second reason is that people we don't know lack the emotional response that people we are close to have regarding lying. Robert Galatzer-Levy, MD, a psychoanalyst in private practice in Chicago, reasons that, "The psychopath liar doesn't have these responses [feeling bad or a guilty conscience], so it's much more difficult to pick up on cues that they are lying." This is why it is apparently so easy for salesmen and politicians alike to lie so effortlessly.

Some believe that the key to lying successfully is not in the technique, but in the face of the one who is lying. Charles F. Bond, PhD, a professor of psychology at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, claims that "symmetrical faces may be seen as more honest than ones that are asymmetrical." Or in other words, "attractive faces are seen as more honest than unattractive faces." There is an element of truth to this, since common sense will prevent someone who isn't generally believed even when telling the truth, from lying in the first place. He also adds that one can determine from an early age whether they have 'the knack' for lying. This is due to the anatomical differences and traits for lying that show up around about the time when a child first deceives his parents. If a child lies and gets away with it, they learn to develop and hone the necessary skills to successfully lie again. Depending on the character, these skills can become second nature, so much so that almost everything they say is distorted in some shape or form. Such ones are referred to as pathological liars.

Having an understanding of the nature and character of the person lying or suspected of lying can go a substantial way to determining the validity of what one says. If a person possesses insecurities about themselves, or has a history of 'spicing up' accounts of events to make themselves appear more interesting, it is likely that on more occasions than not, they cannot be trusted. Likewise, a boastful, elaborated delivery can often be detected as being a lie when certain details appear unrealistic or clumsily exaggerated.

Being able to tell whether someone is lying is by no means easy. Each person is different; each person has his or her differing abilities and conceptions on how to come across as being honest and truthful, thus making each case distinct. Often it is easy to be naïve and gullible and habitually give the benefit of doubt. Therefore, it is practically impossible to accurately determine consistently whether someone is pulling a fast one or not. However, for all of those who do not possess immediate access to a polygraph, brain printing, or thermal imaging machine, herein lies a quick check list to spot those tellers of tales:

• Watch out for long pauses and stutters usually accompanied by slow speech
• Less frequent mention of specifics such as place names, times, locations
• A lie usually has more structure as the liar attempts to overcompensate by telling events in sequential or chronological order
• The emotion conveyed in the lie should be consistent with facial expression, any slight inconsistencies usually indicate a falsehood
• Liars often behave abnormally due to the added pressure of trying to convincingly lie, look out for signs of mental weariness and emotional strain as the lie progresses
• Unnecessary finger pointing, nervous foot tapping, or exaggerated facial expressions of being falsely accused, are all common indicators.

Many thanks to Jeremy Barrett at Polygraph Security Services for providing the image. If you’re worried about a lying girlfriend, cheating husband, or an unfaithful partner, call Polygraph Security Services today and set your mind at ease. Call 020 8947 1940 or visit for more information.

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