How to spot a liar

Signs of lying


If you wonder how to spot a liar, you are not alone. All people lie, all lie much more often than majority would expect and even most of animals lie. Deception is obviously a part of surviving game. But lying is not the only tool we have developed during the evolution. The ability to recognize signs of someone lying can be important weapon too.

So here are the most important signs someone is lying:


– Liar breathe faster, very typical sign is a series of short breath and then a deeper one when a liar tries to ‘reset’ the stressful situation. Of every stress, not only lying, can cause changes in breathing. So pay attention to fast and shallow breaths. They can be telltale signs of lying.



– Liar often tries to suppress the treacherous characteristics of his hands by holding each other, hiding them under the table or putting them in pockets. Folded arms and palms behind one’s back fall into this category. They can also hold an object so hard, their knuckles turn almost white.

– Every lack of gesticulation can be suspicious but it is good to know how much gesticulation is normal for the person in question. Some use full body all the time and some are much more calm. Less obvious are signs of hiding something when liar compensates lack of the gesticulation with self touching, especially parts of the head, like mouths, chin, neck and eyes. These signs are harder to spot but also harder to hide. One typical sign is faked scratching of one of these parts.


– Eyes are on the top of the list when we are looking for signs of lying. But they can be pretty misleading, if we don’t know the person in question very well. Closing one’s lids can be sign of hiding something or just being related to light and visibility. Avoiding eye contact is characteristic for lying but in some cultures too much of an eye contact can be a sign of aggression. Skilled liar will even make prolonged eye contact.

– We can add eyebrows in this group of tell tale signs of lying. Frowning, especially with raised inner edges is very often sign of lying.


– Many muscles around the mouth are hard to control, so they can tell few things about the truth no matter what is actually said. We all know how children cover their mouth when they don’t want to tel the truth and this same sign is still present in later years worth different modifications. Touching, licking or nibbling one’s lips, covering one’s mouth (because of faked yawning or coughing) all fall in this category of tells.


– Beside the obvious – listen what somebody is telling you, you should also try to notice how he does that. It is very important to spot all the deviations. It is not about the tone, repetitions, pauses, it’s about the changes in all these (and other) elements regarding to the normal (stressless) speech of the person in question. Repeating your questions, offering many unnecessary details, avoidance of precise answer can all be signs of lying, but they can be sort of personal style as well.



– In general liar sweets more than somebody who is telling the truth. The reason is simple. To produce a lie, you have to use imagination, planning and all sorts of micro activities which are not necessary when you are only telling the truth. Somebody who suffers of excessive sweating will move more often, for instance cross his limbs, scratch oneself, wipe one’s forehead with handkerchief …


– When we are lying, our bodies produce adrenaline. Heart beats faster and lungs need more oxygen. Side effect of this situation is excessive saliva in our mouth which has to be swallowed what can be visible and this often follows with a lack of saliva, what is compensated with lighter coughs, so called cleaning the throat.

Please note: knowing how to detect lies is not an easy task. It takes a lot of experience and even the best lie detector is always working in gray area. But with practice and non stop learning we can at least spot lighter and darker areas. And these can sometimes make all the difference.