A Word of Warning
A word of warning, signals that indicate a person is lying, particularly those related to stress, can be caused by the situation. Nina, a member of the team, once interviewed several human resources managers and identified a pattern. Most of the interviewers felt strongly that that the interviewees were lying – even when they weren’t. The reason was that the stress of the job interview was causing the candidates to display signals very similar to those associated with the lie. Let’s face it; a job interview is a pretty stressful experience.
As verbal communication took over from body language as the primary method of communication so humans became increasingly able to use words and speech to lie. Most people use visual clues or signals to tell if a lie is being told. (Note the images to the right.)
This has made the telephone the most valuable tool of the liar. You can hear but cannot see. Still it is possible to hear the signals that tell if a lie is being told – but only if you concentrate and know what you’re listening for. According to some linguistic and vocal tone specialists human voices become less resonant when people lie. (It is believed that security forces and the polices use sensitive recording / analysis equipment to detect these changes)
The normal speaking voice becomes flatter, slower, loses its depth. The impression is a less dynamic and more monotonous tone. The reason for this is that the human brain is trying to stay ahead of what is being said and this causes the speech to lose its spontaneity and speed. Also, because people are more cautious that their words may betray them, they say less than they normally would. Anxiety causes breathing issues that can cause slurring or stuttering. However, expert liars teach themselves to “believe” what they’re saying. In confidence trickster terms this is known as the “patter’.
Stiffness of Posture
One of the most reliable signals used to identify the liar is the examination of the posture of the person in question. Trained observers say that a liar’s body will become unnaturally stiff and awkward. This is caused by muscle tension. It is one of the best ways to identify a practiced liar who has learnt to suppress all other signals. This is because people are naturally animated in their gestures and cannot suppress these without appearing tense and “wooden”.
Inexperienced liars often fidget. Foot-tapping, pen twirling, finger flicking and general posture shifting indicate a person’s discomfort with the situation they find themselves experiencing. On their own these are not strong signals that lying is taking place but they are useful cluster enhancers if other more finite signals are evident.
These are tiny movements that can be recognised with practise and are peculiar to a specific individual. They tend to occur microseconds before a lie is told. Professional poker players are constantly looking out for these “tells” . Warning When it comes to Body language it is all too easy to see signals than can be for lying but may well be caused by something else.
All images used are of models that have assumed poses for photographic purposes.
These images in no way imply any negative characteristics about these individuals.