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Spot A Liar - How To Read Dishonest Body Language

Most people are lying to you.

A 2002 study at the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that 60% of people lied during a 10-minute conversation.

And they didn't just lie once… they told an average of two to three lies in that time.

Fortunately – there are some surprising tricks to spot a liar.

Once you know the giveaway signs – you'll know how to display honesty as well.

how to spot a liar header

Blinking Sudden Head Movements Saying One Thing But Doing Another Fidgeting Freezing Touching The Face Repetition Trouble Speaking Getting Aggressive And Pointing At You Stressed Breathing (Bonus) Suddenly Relaxing When You Change The Subject

Click Here To Watch The Video – How To Spot A Liar (Bad Body Language)

So what are the body language mistakes that tell you when someone is lying?

This first one is pretty subtle – blink and you'll miss it…

Ways To Spot A Liar No. 1: Blinking

Most people blink approximately 5-6 times per minute – once every 10-12 seconds.

Meanwhile, a 2008 study found that people blink less when they're lying – but then blink up to 8 times FASTER than normal after the lie has been told.

Dr. Sharon Leal from Britain's Portsmouth University placed electrodes around the eyes of two groups of volunteers.

One group went about their normal business. The others had to steal an exam paper and then deny having taken it.

eye contact

Is he telling the truth? Check his blink rate.

When asked to describe what happened, the liars all blinked very slowly – but as soon as the conversation was over their blink rate increased rapidly.

Dr. Leal believes we blink slower due to the mental effort of making up lies.

The takeaway from this for us non-liars (you're all perfectly honest, right guys?) is that blink rate plays a role in looking trustworthy – so if you've got dry eyes or allergies you should do something about it before you run for president.

2. Sudden Head Movements

When you ask someone a question, watch their head.

A liar might quickly jerk their head back or sideways before they respond – this shows that they're trying to think of an answer quickly.

So to show honesty, keep your head still when someone asks a question – unless you're nodding or shaking it, of course.

3. Saying One Thing But Doing Another

In the book Spy The Lie, ex-CIA officers Philip Houston, Michael Floyd, and Susan Carnicero explain that our brains are wired to make sure our verbal and nonverbal behaviors match.

It follows that a liar’s nonverbal behavior may accidentally tell the truth.

For instance, they might tell you something didn’t happen, but just barely nod ‘yes’ at the same time.

Or they might give a positive answer but shake their head.

how to organize your life yes no hell yeah

If their words say one thing but their body says another – they may be lying.

This trick to spot a liar works better if someone is giving you a narrative response rather than a yes or no answer.

You should also be aware that not every culture has the same gestures.

For instance, in Bulgaria and Albania people shake their heads for ‘yes’ and nod for ‘no’.

4. Fidgeting

People who are lying tend to fidget. They may fiddle with their hands, clothing, or objects.

A group of Dutch and British researchers used full-body motion capture suits (yes, the same kind used in CGI movies) to detect lying. Each suit contained 17 sensors that registered movement up to 120 times per second.

They found that small movements indicate lying about 60% of the time.

Full-body fidgeting indicates lying 75% of the time.

When they recorded full-body motion plus individual limb data they got 82% success in predicting lying.

This worked regardless of volunteers’ cultural background, anxiety level, or cognitive load (how hard they were thinking) – all of which massively affect traditional lie detector tests.

If you're a fidgeter, consider addressing underlying issues (like caffeine dependence or anxiety) that might cause the behavior – or just work on being more mindful of your body.

This will help you come across as more trustworthy.

5. Freezing

Not all liars fidget. Some go the other way and freeze.

Lying is difficult and people tend not to move around when they are concentrating on something.

Be wary if a person who has been moving around normally suddenly becomes very still.

A little bit of fidgeting as you speak is better for conveying honesty than going rigid.

Just make sure you don't go too far and come across as nervous.

6. Touching The Face

A specific type of fidget that makes it easy to spot a liar is touching the face.

Liars may touch their noses, pick their lips, or tug on their ears. The anxiety of lying makes the blood drain from their face and ears – which may make them cold or itchy.

Maybe this is why they call a particularly bold lie 'bare-faced'.

If someone touches their face consistently as they're trying to convince you, they might be lying.

They may also briefly hide their mouth or eyes with their hands.

Some believe this is a subconscious gesture that indicates when someone knows they have something to hide.

7. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

Dr. Lillian Glass, a body language analyst for the FBI, says liars often repeat themselves.

They’re trying to buy time – and to convince themselves as well as you.

Repeating a lie actually works – the more times we hear something, the more we tend to believe it.

That’s why advertising uses repetition. Psychologists call it the ‘illusion of truth effect’.

To show honesty – just say things once.

8. Trouble Speaking

Stress can make a liar’s salivary glands produce less saliva – giving them a dry mouth that makes it hard to speak.

You may notice that they suddenly purse or point their lips.

They’ll also hesitate a lot, say ‘um’ and ‘uh’, and make slips of the tongue as the panic signals in their brain transfer to their body.

negative body language fidget with tie phone

You can even detect this one on the phone.

Of course, not everyone who's stressed is lying. You can spot a liar by WHEN they get stressed.

If a liar tells you a story in chronological order, try asking them to repeat it in reverse, or ask what they did before one of the things they mentioned.

If they show signs of panic like this – they’re lying.

So in stressful situations, try to relax and have a drink of water at the ready if you want to come across as honest.

9. Getting Aggressive And Pointing At You

When people are on the defensive they can get aggressive – especially when you obviously don’t believe them.

Pointing at you while they speak is an attempt to intimidate you and put the blame on you.

negative body language pointing finger

Don't get intimidated by this angry liar.

Raising their voice more than normal is also a giveaway. It’s as if they think yelling their words will make them more believable.

If their tone sounds angry or bullying – they’re probably trying to scare you so that you’re easier to manipulate.

At this point, it’s best to leave the situation for your own safety.

When you're the one getting angry – no matter how much people annoy you, try to speak calmly and don’t point at them.

10. Stressed Breathing

A stressed body will try to get more oxygen to be ready for fight or flight.

Liars most often breathe through their mouths and may breathe more heavily. Their voices may fade out at the end of sentences as they run out of breath.

Stress affects a liar's vocal cords too.

Speech may sound shaky, get quieter or raspier, or change pitch.

These are involuntary physical responses, so the only way to show honesty here is to actually be honest.

Bonus 1: Suddenly Relaxing When You Change The Subject

If you think you spot a liar displaying these stress behaviors but you’re not sure – try changing the subject.

A liar will visibly relax as they realize the pressure’s off.

So even if you're really sick of a conversation topic – it's best not to breathe a visible sigh of relief when someone changes the subject.

Bonus 2: You CAN'T Spot A Liar By Where They Look

You may have heard that liars look to their left while speaking, and people who are telling the truth look to their right.

Nope – this is bad science.

In 2012 psychologists at the University of Hertfordshire in England actually filmed people lying and telling the truth. They found no correlation between eye movement and honesty.

Summary: All The Ways To Spot A Liar Blinking Sudden Head Movements Saying One Thing But Doing Another Fidgeting Freezing Touching The Face Repetition Trouble Speaking Getting Aggressive And Pointing At You Stressed Breathing Suddenly Relaxing When You Change The Subject

It's a ruthless world out there. Whether you like it or not, people are going to try and spin tales on you.

Unfortunately for them, however, you know what to look for. Keep the truth on your side, gentlemen!

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