Liars are more dif­fi­cult to spot than you think

The Asian Age - - Science + Health -

Liars are harder to spot than you think! Sci­enti- sts have dis­cov­ered that liars know how to sup­press tell- tale signs of dis­hon­esty like avoid­ing eye con­tact and fid­get­ing.

‘ Tell- tale signs’ like head and hand move­ments are also made by hon­est peo­ple. Fib­bers make a con­scious ef­fort to ap­pear straight faced and rigid. Liars are harder to spot than you might think, re­search sug­gests, the Dai­ly­mail re­ports. Peo­ple who fib know how to sup­press the ‘ tell- tale signs’, such as avoid­ing eye con­tact and fid­get­ing, a study by Ed­in­burgh Univer­sity found. ‘ The find­ings sug­gests that we have strong pre­con­cep­tions about the be­hav­iour as­so­ci­ated with ly­ing, which we act on al­most in­stinc­tively when lis­ten­ing to oth­ers,’ lead au­thor Dr Mar­tin Cor­ley said. ‘ How­ever, we don’t nec­es­sar­ily pro­duce these cues when we’re ly­ing, per­haps be­cause we try to sup­press them.’ The re­searchers used an in­ter­ac­tive game to as­sess the types of speech and ges­tures peo­ple make when ly­ing.

They also an­a­lysed how a lis­tener in­ter­prets whether a state­ment is false. The com­put­erised two- player game in­volved 24 pairs who were com­pet­i­tively hunt­ing for trea­sure. Play­ers had the choice of ei­ther be­ing hon­est about where the trea­sure was hid­den or ly­ing. From their re­sponse, the other player in their pair in­ter­preted whether they were telling the truth.

If the first player man­aged to fool the other, they got to keep the trea­sure. How­ever, if the sec­ond player found the trea­sure, they got to keep it. At the start of the ex­per­i­ment, the re­searchers noted 19 signs of ly­ing, such as pauses in speech and eye­brow move­ments. These signs were used to suss out whether one of the par­tic­i­pants could tell the other was ly­ing. Re­sults sug­gest lis­ten­ers make judge­ments on whether some­one is telling the truth within a few hun­dred mil­lisec­onds of en­coun­ter­ing a sign.

Peo­ple be­lieve some­one is ly­ing if they say ‘ um’ or ‘ uh’, re­peat words like ‘ the’ un­nec­es­sar­ily or cor­rect them­selves mid­way through a sen­tence. How­ever, the re­searchers be­lieve liars may make a con­scious ef­fort to avoid these, such as by at­tempt­ing to look straight faced or be­ing rigid in their body lan­guage. As a re­sult, many of the play­ers in the study were fooled into think­ing their op­po­nent was telling the truth.

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