How to spot a liar.

September 26, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More

I don’t think I’m good at spotting liars. I don’t usually recognize the that I’ve been lied to until after “things just don’t add up,” and that might be a long time after the lie occurs. I’m almost always surprised when it turns out that my trust was betrayed. This two-minute How-Cast video gives a brisk summary of some some advice that resonates with me. Now I’ll just have to see if I’ll be able to employ this advice to good effect.

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Category: Communication, Psychology Cognition

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Erika Price says:

    Unfortunately this video serves equally well as a how-to on how to spot an awkward person. One of my favorite psychology texts is Paul Ekmans Telling Lies, a thoroughly-researched book that contradicts much of this how-to video. For example, several studies by Ekman demonstrated that people were better at picking out a liar when they did not attend to physical cues.

    When trying to diagnose a lie, we try to fall back on the stereotypical signs, such as nervous shifting and lack of eye contact. In fact, people in Ekman's studies could better diagnose a lie by listening to the content of the liar's statement. Unfortunately the findings contradict this video- liars were more curt, stingy with details and hardly ever used first person pronouns in their stories.

    No doubt many liars do behave in the way this video describes. But as a diagnostic tool, I do not think a survey of physicality is very useful. People create physical barriers, avoid eye contact and embellish stories with needless detail for a variety of reasons.

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