Society would quickly collapse were it not for the dozens of tiny lies we permit ourselves every day. Mostly we use this for simple good manners. For instance, when breaking up with a partner, we reassure them that "It's not you, it's me", when in reality it most certainly is them.
We all learn to lie at such a young age: every parent will recognise the moment where a child first puts their hand to their mouth before stating a blatant lie. From that moment, we get steadily better at lying as we grow older, gradually refining our technique until by full adulthood we are all experts in the art of deception.
Of all human social behaviours, it is perhaps the hardest to detect. That said, there are various things we can look out for to help us know when someone is lying.
Are they just nervous?
Lying can have very similar symptoms to anxiety. In many situations when we might be tempted to lie, we can also simply be nervous – trying to cover up our mistakes or woo a possible partner. The trick is to establish what a person's "baseline" behaviour is, and then look for deviations. If someone is normally relaxed, then blinking and quick eye movement, licking of the lips and touching of the face can all denote lying.
Look for gestures that suggest hiding the face or body. Touching the nose is a classic symptom of anxiety. Bill Clinton, when testifying before a grand jury about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, adopted neutral body language when giving obviously true answers. But when he was being quizzed more exactly, he touched his nose every four minutes, or 26 times.
Look for scratching or fiddling with clothing. If you are lying and want to disguise it, keep your eyes and your hands calm without seeming unnatural. Nobody looks as nervous as somebody trying not to.
Despite the image of the "grinning liar", studies have found that people smile more when they are telling the truth.
Trust your instinct
We are often more adept at lie-detection intuitively than scientifically. In the end, the old adage is probably correct: if you suspect someone is lying, they probably are.
2010-03-03 20:19 编辑：kuaileyingyu
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