How many people have you spoken with today? Chances are that most of them lied to you – and that they did it more than once. It’s a hard fact to accept, but even your closest friends and coworkers lie to you regularly.
University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert Feldman has studied lying for more than a decade, and his research has reached some startling conclusions. Most shocking is that 60% of people lie during a typical 10-minute conversation and that they average two to three lies during that short timeframe.
People lie in everyday conversation to appear more likable and competent. While men and women lie equally as often, they tend to lie for different reasons.
“A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.” – Mark Twain
Keep an eye out for the following signs, and you won’t be taken advantage of by a liar.
- They cover their mouths. People often cover their mouths when lying.
- They repeat themselves and provide too much detail. Liars hate silence, so they often try to fill it up by talking more than they need to.
- They prepare for an escape. In an unconscious attempt to find an escape route, people who are lying often angle their bodies toward the door if they’re sitting, and if they’re standing, they may even move closer to the door.
- Their words and body language don’t match. It’s easy to lie with words, but our bodies know (and show) the truth. A clear sign that someone is lying to you is when their words are saying one thing and their body language is saying something entirely different.
- Their breathing changes. People reflexively start breathing more heavily when they lie as lying causes changes to heart rate and blood flow.
- They change their typical patterns of eye movement: They say that the eyes are the “windows to the soul.” That’s especially true when someone is lying.
- They get aggressive. Liars will often get aggressive in a conversation for no apparent reason.
- They fidget. Fidgeting is a clear sign of nervous energy. Even practiced liars worry that you won’t believe them, so they release that nervous energy by playing with their hair, tapping their feet or fingers, pulling on their ears, and more.
Before you make any conclusions, you need to constitute normal behavior for the person who you think might be lying to you. The indicators above only have meaning in the context of a person’s typical behavior. One British study showed that the incidence of psychopathy among CEOs is four times that of the general population, so it’s not as unlikely as you might think.
How often do you think people lie to you?