How Can You Tell If Someone Is Lying?


44 Answers

James Jacob Profile
James Jacob answered

Emotion and facial expressions

When someone is lying, they will do one of three things. A) Show emotion when they have none, B) show no emotion (think of a poker face), or C) mask one emotion with another. Keep a close eye on the person you are speaking to, not just there eyes but also their entire face.

Expressions are universal; whether you are a politician or a model your emotions
show up on you face.

Eyes and upper half vs. Lower half

The upper half of a persons face is a much more reliable measure than the lower half. It generates more involuntary clues and is extremely difficult for someone to control. The muscles used in smiling for example is the most revealing clue to tell if a smile is genuine or manufactured is in the eyes.

Look at the muscles that surround the eye socket. The major muscle running from the cheekbone at an angle to the corner of the lips indicates a sincere smile.

Check for Emotional Leaks

Micro-expressions that flit across the face often expose a person's real thoughts. Imagine if you were to watch people on videotape, frame by frame, you would see them showing their true emotion just before they show the fake expression designed to cover up the lie.

This micro expression indicates contempt.

But these ultra-brief facial movements, or micro-expressions, only lasting a fraction of a second, aren't easy to spot. Even professionals trained in lie detection can't always isolate them. And deliberate liars tend to add other expressions, like smiling, to disguise a lie.


If their facial expressions are not in sync with what they are saying. They might be hiding something or lying. For example, if the moment calls for a smile and the smile is delayed or the timing is off.. A genuine smile will crest over their face like a wave.

Eye Contact

While most people may interpret darting, unfocused eyes as a classic sign of lying, it's vital to consider the context of the behavior. For example, experienced poker players are careful not to make too much of eye “tells.” People usually look to the left or right when thinking about an answer. Someone not making eye contact should arouse suspicion, but eye contact can be a tricky evaluation tool: Consider that a psychopath can look you in the eye and lie with ease. And in some cultures, it's considered inappropriate to maintain eye contact.

Body Language

Even though a high percentage of communication is thought to be non-verbal, no single part of the body—such as the eyes or hands—reveals the whole story when it comes to lying. People who are lying often become more still: Hand gestures that normally accompany talking may occur with less frequency or intensity, and there may be fewer arm and leg movements. The person becomes more focused on telling the lie, so they get quieter in their body. A few more examples can be found here.

Ask Follow Up Questions... Quickly

If you suspect you're being lied too, try this technique, which experts say can trip up a liar. Try asking questions quickly—one after the other. “The initial lie is easy,” explains Kang Lee, director of the Institute of Child Study at the University of Toronto, and whose behavioral work with children can often be applied to adults. “The follow-up lie is more difficult. When you continue to ask questions and put people on the spot, it gets harder to maintain the lie.”

Rephrase the Lie Backwards

If you suspect that you are being lied to, ask the person to explain the events leading up to the problem backwards and see if they can get it right! Often, a lie is planned out as a series of events in a certain order leading up to something going wrong. They will have planned the events in a certain order to cover the bases but not the other way round. If it's the truth, then it will be easy to remember. If they are telling the truth then it will be easy!

Hunched shoulders

When a person lies, unless they are a professional liar, will subconsciously try and make themselves small and inconspicuous. As a result, they will often hunch their shoulders, which reinforce their desire to remain small. Watch out for this. Other body gestures include crossing their arms or overtly lean away from you while talking to you.

More info than you asked for

A liar might be so paranoid about being untruthful that they'll offer much more information than you asked for - liars know that a good liar tells more details in order to look innocent. So when your colleague goes off into a tangent about how he never got your message, but he did get a weird message on his answering machine that made him laugh, and that made him think of the other night when... You might have to ask him to revert to the topic at hand. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

thanked the writer.
View all 4 Comments
Anonymous commented
This is some great information to know. Thanks to whoever thought to ask and replied!
Brice White
Brice White commented
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Brice White
Brice White commented
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Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
They should teach a course on this in school it's so essential to navigating in the world of humans.

Ticks are a tell.

Watch for logical fallacies, wikipedia lists lots of these. This is essential to evaluating politicians. Refusing to open their rationale to inspection is more often than not a red flag.

Watch for thinking while covering mouth with left hand (for righties I guess). This is an indicator of covering up inner strain or internal conflict. It's like the hiding discussed above but even good liars may do this.

Pacing or turning away from the listener while talking is also a strong indicator.

Strong formal statements are much more suspicious "I did NOT have sexual relations with her" as opposed to "I didn't mess around with her" (informal with the conjunction - usually the truth) which is a key indicator. A tick with a strong formal statement is about 95% of the time a big fat whopper. Gesturing with an off hand with a strong formal statement is oftentimes fraught with deceit.

The best liars do it all the time and don't even know they are lying - pathological. They are convinced reality is how they've fabricated it. 5% of the population can lie without ticks. They gravitate towards sales and politics.

Throw in some alcohol and then ask innocuous questions designed to explore the details without a dullard catching on. After a couple drinks the web will be a wet soggy mess and you'll own the lie. Beware of hostility when you have them on the ropes. Irritability or outright hostility will bubble up when they are caught. They may try to end the conversation at that point, or ridicule the watcher. Go for the throat, which leads to my last point:
Most important, when you catch them the first time, let them know that even one more time might make you want to terminate your relations with them. Also give social feedback so others don't fall in the trap. If it's your spouse catch them quick or you're in for real trouble.

Honesty is truly the best policy for all. Too bad our society often values celebrity over honesty, that is why we're currently ruled by the dishonest.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
You can tell a person is lying when his eyes shift to the left/looks towards the left. Although this is not necessarily true for ALL liars...

The eyes shift to the left because the right brain is sending signals that it needs a bit more time to map out the details of the lie. It is "creatively" thinking of a story/explanation, and assuming the liar was asked point blank-- this is the involuntary reaction to that.
marie Profile
marie answered
Personaly if sum1 can't look you in the eye when speaking to you the I think the r not being 100% truthfull,maybe telling you some of the truth but theyre version hmm
Everybody has a tell whether getting defensive looking away or slowing down their speech just look for something odd about the person that you don't see when they are just being normal
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
What I've heard is if a person lying they sometimes...  
  * twitch or have an kind of nervous or stern facial expression.  
  * or aviod eye contact with a person.  
  * they will kind of ich or touch their body in a strange and nervous way  
  * answer questions timidly or avoid the question by changing the subject.  
  * when spoken to might look away  
  * the most obvious way to tell if someone is lying is when they change their whole story   to something totally unbelivable or very different
rebekah schurr Profile
rebekah schurr answered
Usually, when someone is lying, they will twitch,or do something unusual that you don't usually notice.
Sometimes, the person could be a terrible lier, so they will say something unreasonable.
The person could be the best lier in the world, but they could use a different tone of voice while saying it.
Rarely, some people slip by lying to me, but I can usually tell.
 They also don't usually look you in the eye when lying, because they usually look either down, or look at something in the background.
sadman hoque Profile
sadman hoque answered
By checking their heart beat if its an armature or nervous person
Mark Kearney Profile
Mark Kearney answered
There are lots of signs that can give someone who is lying away ie; dilated pupils, holding body rigid, sending conflicting signals, blinking more than often, changing details in their story when asked it again.
Joel Bower Profile
Joel Bower answered
Study there expression /or if you listen good enough they might not say the same words they said before.
Charice Miller Profile
Charice Miller answered
From body language and facial expression. They may stutter or do things such as sweat or clear their throat, although signs aren't always so obvious. You really have to look for clues.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
One way you can tell if sum1 is lying is if they stutter or blink a lot. One other way is changing the subject of conversation to avoid the question you asked. An example of this could b:"Hey, did you send that really mean text to Allie?""Speaking of texting, I forwarded you this picture about..."
zeisha . Profile
zeisha . answered
No, I don't think so because when I do plain talk even at that time I can't see in some one eyes . When I talk to some one whom I respect very much at that time because of nervousness my body language changes and I don't make eye contacts. Like some one said that in some societies eye contact is not considered as a good thing so the people of that society might not make any eye contact that doesn't mean they are lying.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
You can tell if some one is lying by their eyes and how serious they look if they look very serious it usually means they are not lying but if they look like they are just messing with you it usually means they are lying and also if their eyes are big or not.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
• Physical expression will be limited and stiff, with few arm and hand movements. Hand, arm and leg movement are toward their own body the liar takes up less space.

• A person who is lying to you will avoid making eye contact.

• Hands touching their face, throat & mouth. Touching or scratching the nose or behind their ear. Not likely to touch his chest/heart with an open hand.

Emotional Gestures & Contradiction
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
High voice and twitches maybe eye rolling or sweating!
thanked the writer.
vanessa mason
vanessa mason commented
Im a measter at lying no high voice no twitches no eye rolling i can look you strait in the eye and sweat really?
Jamie Profile
Jamie answered
The more elaborate the reasoning, the higher the chances are that they are lying!
ly fen chen Profile
ly fen chen answered

We can tell by their eyes or any of their gestures, as when they are lying, it shows that they are not natural, including their gestures, and their eyes as well

Breanne Goodson- Lopez Profile
Twiddling of the fingers, sweating, licking of the lips, instant denying, not letting you search and see if the person is lying and if they move their eyes non-stop(;
Sandy Rass Profile
Sandy Rass answered
Ask them if they are religious. All religious people are liars and hypocrites so this is the best place to start
thanked the writer.
Sophie Wong
Sophie Wong commented
Not really. Most religious people aren't liars and hypocrites, because they're religious and want to go to heaven, and therefore don't lie.
Fabrizio commented
Hi, I am Falcoreale and not religious but I think that can be missinterpretate by the fact that all religious are liars and hypocrites becouse they are blinded of the fact that for them ther is one and only true that is to beleave on something big and strong.
suman kumar Profile
suman kumar answered
Their eyes will tell the story, when someone is lying they can't directly see face to face and talk.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
I no if some one is lieing because you can say and but they don't now what to say when you say and
Fabrizio Profile
Fabrizio answered
Yes you can by the body language and the way they Beauvoir..
Usually the way someone is looking at you  not directly in the eyes or even excessive swatting.
Addison LePere Profile
Addison LePere answered
You can usually tell if someone is lying if they smile or laugh when there looking at you or you can tell by there tone of voice. That's how I tell if someone is lying.
You know if someone is lying you he will always have words to say it is difficult not look directly into your eyes and most of all nervous. 
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
If when you ask a question the person looks down and to the left. The answer I gave is from a profiling class.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Look at his eyes keenly.If he is lying, he will not be able to stare back at you for long.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Use of body language the way the speaker move his body will constitutes a very important way we communicate,and by asking to many of question,during asking you hold your temper,show him you want to listen,remove distraction which are one's of commandment of good listening.
Cristina Asis Profile
Cristina Asis answered
Abruptly changing the topic, too much defensive, facial expressions such as lack of eye contact, delayed answering your questions, smiling, hands touching their face, hair and other body gestures that presents uncomfortable for them.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
The liar will aviod eye contact they will sweat they will cover their mouth or nose and their pupils with decrease in size if they are telling a lie if they are telling the truth their pupils( the black dot in your eye) enlarge or stay the same size.
Mark Brookshire Profile
Mark Brookshire answered
I have a friend. Every time he lies, he will start to studder. LoL... Similar to Jim Carrey in the movie where he could not say a lie for 24 hours...

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