Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Can You Spot a Liar?

I have a problem with this, but let's see how I did at this questionnaire... I answered the questions and copied them to paste into here, but haven't seen the answer yet.

Here are the questions:

Which are you most likely to believe?
"I didn't do it"
"I did not do it"

You accuse your brother of something, which he strongly denies. After hearing him deny it a bunch, you decide to change the subject. Which of these reactions points to him lying?
Your brother being happy to change the subject with you
Your brother continuing to defend himself after you've tried to change the subject

You have two close friends. Which one is more likely to be a liar?
Brianna - her facial expressions need a moment to catch up to her stated mood
Sarah - her facial expressions match her stated mood immediately.

Which of the following is NOT a sign of a liar?
Too much eye contact
Normal eye contact
Not enough eye contact

What's a liar more likely to do?
Touch his heart
Touch his face

Who is likely lying?
The person who says too much
The person who says too little

If someone responds to an accusation with soft tones or mumbles, she is likely:
Not lying
Lying

You Can Definitely Spot a Liar
Maybe you have good instincts. Or maybe you just have a lot of experience with liars. Either way, it's pretty hard for someone to pull a fast one on you. You're like a human lie detector.

My Comments
They are right - I spend too much time with people who lie to me. Whether it is a lie of omission or commission, it is lying. And the problem I had with the questionnaire isn't in the questions themselves as much as the answers...

For the first question, I'd have said, "Neither." Most people say that no matter what, without me asking. However, I do know what they mean. For most people, comfortable conversation includes contracting words. When the person isn't comfortable with what they are saying, poof, the contractions disappear.

Body language is usually what gives people away. The moment they think they've been caught their body language suddenly can't hold up the lie, and they will continue to lie at least tokenly, and it gets worse. There are some rare people who can maintain the right body language while lying, but that is a small group. And you can imagine the kind of trust that engenders.

Eye contact is not always telling - unless you know the person to begin with; people who normally are poor at making good eye contact will often make too much eye contact suddenly, when lying. The opposite is true of those who usually do make good to too much eye contact in normal living. The ones who fool you are the ones who manage to keep their eye contact normal.

People are the same with talking. Those who talk too much will sometimes clam up when lying. Those who are normally not talkers are the dead giveaway - suddenly they are positively garrilous!

The last one is interesting. The mumbling is not as much a sign as the volume. Liars often have the if-I-say-it-louder-they'll-believe-me syndrome. I have no idea why. I hear people who are struggling with a language barrier do the same thing: if they are speaking to one of the Spanish-speaking people they will repeat the answer in louder English, as if sudden understanding will happen it they say it louder!

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