Researchers have found there’s a clear way to tell when someone is lying.
According to the lead author of the study, Dr Chris Street, an investigative psychology lecturer at the University of Huddersfield, there’s a single ‘cue’ you can look out for that distinguishes whether someone is lying or just ‘thinking hard’.
Dr Street reached this conclusion after undertaking an experiment where he asked people to lie about their travel experiences, according to The Independent.
Researchers hired a film studio in London and asked passersby if they would take part in a ‘documentary’ on tourism. The participants were then told the filmmakers were running out of time, and if they would talk about places they hadn’t actually visited, along with genuine locations they’d travelled to.
Dr Street told The Independent:”The idea was that they were lying to someone that they could potentially deceive. They were lying on behalf of another person, but the lie was spontaneous and told with an intention to mislead.”
There has been a push in the literature suggesting that indirect lie detection works and the reason is that it is unconscious – so people should not be making reasoned judgments but relying on their gut feeling.
But if our account is correct, that is a very bad way to go.
The research was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, and the film interviews are available to other researchers – human lie detection is a relatively new area of study
According to the study it’s better to “focus on the content of the tale people are selling us, and asking if it is consistent with other facts we know”.
And the research also debunked the popular theory that liars are more anxious or nervous than people telling the truth: “because often the reason we lie is that to tell the truth would be very difficult and more anxiety-provoking than a lie.”