Sunday, July 10, 2011

7 Reasons Your Brain CAN'T Spot A Liar

Think you can always spot a liar? That you're able to successfully call someone's bluff? According to a study in the journal of Psychological Science In The Public Interest…you're probably wrong. Research shows there are several factors that contribute to our ability—or more accurately, our inability—to tell when we're being deceived.

Here are 7 of those factors:

1) Liars Get Ignored: The Ostrich Effect
One reason deception goes undetected is because we don't want to uncover the truth. Quite often it's because the lie is easier to handle. This has been referred to as hiding our head in the sand, or the Ostrich Effect, and often leads to more serious lies which have more serious implications.

2) Liars Don't Have Pinocchio's Nose
Do you think someone's lying because he or she won't look you in the eye? Because beads of perspiration stand out on the forehead? According to research, there aren't any tell-tale clues specifically related to lying or deception. One study examined 158 different clues believed to be associated with lying and of these 118 showed no connection to deception.

3) Liars Are Hard To Spot
Are you still convinced you can always spot a liar? You'll need a very good eye because studies show that contrary to popular belief there are very few behavioral differences between honest people and liars.

4) Liars Know How To Embed Their Lies
Liars are smart. Instead of telling an all-out huge lie, they usually mix their lies with enough truth to make them plausible. Another form of this is to embellish on the positives rather than to say something negative about someone.

5) Liars Try To Fool You
This undoubtedly seems obvious, but one problem in spotting a deception is that liars use strategies that appear truthful.

6) Liars Don't Tell Us If We Caught Them
When we get feedback on a completed project it allows us to make improvements next time we tackle a similar project. This isn't the case with deception. If we don't know when we've been fooled, we can't learn how to detect the deception the next time.

7) Some People Are Just Good Liars
Some people have perfected this ability. Very little research has been done on the features of a good liar. One of those rare studies did identify 6 features that might play a key role in whether a person is particularly adept at lying.
   A: People whose natural behavior disarms suspicions
   B: People who don't consciously find it difficult to lie
   C: People who do not experience fear, guilt or delight when lying
   D: People who are good actors and display an honest demeanor
   E: People whose attractiveness may lead to assumption of honesty
   F: People who are good psychologists and have a sense of what others want to hear.

Hmmm…I guess the bottom line is that we all need to remain vigilant rather than automatically accept everything at face value. But if not, could I interest you in a bridge being constructed between California and Hawaii, some ocean front property in Arizona, and some swamp land with oil underneath it that I have for sale? :)


Lu/Grace said...

I absolutely know when either of my two teenage boys are telling me less than the whole truth. Sometimes I let it slide, but not every time. I want to keep them off guard. I also don't shy away from verifying, even if it means calling other parents at the risk of getting a friend in trouble. Some things are just too important.

Lilly Gayle said...

Great blog, Terri. But now when I watch "Lie to Me," I'll know it's not real. lol!

Samantha Gentry said...

Lu/Grace: Dealing with teenagers is always tricky. In their minds they are adults, but in reality they aren't as they have neither the maturity nor life experience.

Mimi Barbour said...

Hi Samantha,
Great blog - I must say that I'm so glad that I NEVER tell lies!!! therefore there's no reason for me to try and hide behind a fake demeanor.
Now if you beieve that, I really do have a piece of property...??

Samantha Gentry said...

Lilly: Of course, how much of television is real? LOL

Thanks for stopping by.

Samantha Gentry said...

Mimi: Of course I believe that! Absolutely, for sure. LOL