People lie for many reasons. The key motives behind lying are to get out of trouble or to avoid being alienated as a person. Those who tell lies, no matter how small, are often exposed and left with a bad reputation and perceived by family, friends and colleagues as deceitful and untrustworthy. As the age old proverb goes ‘honesty is always the best policy’.
There is no checklist of standard behaviour all liars exhibit, but psychologists have found that liars are expert at controlling their body language, tending to observe you closely to check you believe them.
Liar, liar - research
* stats: 20-25% of CVs have some kind of fabrication in them; 25% of the population is intrinsically honest, 25% intrinsically dishonest, and 50% can be swayed by temptation
* the more intimate you are with someone, the less accurate your ability to detect lies partly because you have become more trusting, and partly because you have developed idealised beliefs about their honesty
* those intending to deceive are hugely influenced in the tactics they use by the feedback they receive; they monitor reactions closely and change tactics accordingly
Studying the sub-text
Body language signs of deception are well chronicled: shifty or wandering eyes, fidgeting/squirming, rapid speech, hand-to-face contact, and decrease in frequency of hand gestures. But watching every body movement closely can lead to misunderstanding; listening to language provides better clues:
* makes negative assertions and denials
* speaks in a higher pitch
* lacks specific detail in statements
* offers long-winded explanations and irrelevant digressions
Don’t be afraid to pursue an issue when you suspect you are being lied to; lie detection is essentially about personal assertiveness:
* introduce signs of scepticism in the face of possible deception
* start a conversation with the liar on the subject in which you suspect them of lying
* ask about events out of chronological sequence