Thoughts To Live By…

How To Spot A Lie?

Posted on: January 22, 2009

Let’s face it. We all lie. In fact, it is estimated that the average person lies three times in a ten-minute conversation. Can you tell if someone is lying to you?

“Lie to Me,” the new drama from FOX (Weds at 9pm ET) about a “deception expert” (Tim Roth), pulls from the real-life research of Dr. Paul Ekman. Dr. Ekman has been studying nonverbal behavior and the act of deceit for several decades and in 2001 was named one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century. Dr. Ekman believes that certain nonverbal emotional responses are universal (including facial expressions and body language) and can telegraph someone’s true feelings.

A micro-expression is just one way to detect a lie. A micro-expression occurs when people are deliberately concealing (or subconsciously blocking) how they really feel. While most facial expressions last for two to three seconds, a micro-expression lasts 1/25th of a second. Check out these photos that illustrate the micro-expressions as defined by Dr. Ekman.

According to a “Lie to Me” booklet that arrived in my mailbox recently, there are also verbal indicators that can tip off a person’s real feelings.

  • Pitch Increase: A higher pitch than normal indicates a negative emotion (probably anger or fear).
  • Pitch Decrease: A lower than normal pitch indicates a negative emotion (probably sadness, guilt or shame).
  • Long or Frequent Pauses: Taking longer or more frequent pauses in conversation could indicate someone is lying or being cautious.
  • Speech Error Increase: Stuttering, stammering, partial words, non-words and repetitions can indicate negative emotion (most likely fear).

If lie detection is something that you want to learn more about, I recommend reading Dr. Ekman’s book Telling Lies. Also, the official site for “Lie to Me” will be updated with information and fun tests that you’ll be able to take.

Author: Andrea Engstrom
Source: Yahoo TV Blog


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