Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire! (Tesh Tuesday)

The average person tells a lie at least 10 times a week. Luckily, the vast majority of those lies are what psychologist Bella DePaulo calls “false positives.” That’s her term for the little white lies we use to spare people’s feelings - like telling your host you enjoyed an overcooked dinner. Sometimes people lie to take advantage of us. Here’s how to tell when someone’s stretching the truth, courtesy of Forbes magazine:

  • Liars give short answers. According to a University of Virginia study, liars provide fewer details and use fewer words than someone who’s on the level. That's because they’re trying to keep track of the things they’re making up.

  • They don’t use the first person. Joseph Buckley has taught thousands of police officers how to interview suspects. He says that people who are deliberately misleading tend to use second- and third-person pronouns like "you," "we" and "they," instead of first person pronouns, like “I” and “me.” Liars are also more likely to use phrases like, "to tell you the truth," and "to be perfectly honest,” as if they’re trying to convince both of you they’re being truthful.

  • Liars don’t talk with their hands. Jeffrey Hancock is a professor of communication at Cornell University. He says that when we believe in what we’re saying, we make hand gestures to emphasize our point. However, when someone’s lying, they may fidget or drum their fingers on the table, but they won’t make wide or open movements with their hands. That's because they don’t want you to pay too much attention.

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