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How can I Detect Lies?

By Garry Crystal
Updated May 23, 2024
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There are many ways in which a person’s body language can give you clues as to whether or not they are lying. Research has shown that people lie every four minutes of every day, and they may not even be aware that they are doing it. People who are lying often avoid eye contact, have a stiff facial expression, and exhibit closed off body language. They often try to distract the people they are speaking with, and may add too many details to their stories. Members of police departments and security experts use these clues to catch out criminals during interrogation.

One of the biggest signs that a person is telling lies is that he avoids eye contact during conversation. He may also touch his face continuously, very often covering his mouth with his hand. Touching or scratching the nose is also said to be a sign of distraction to cover up falsehoods. A person who is not telling the truth may be trying to make you focus on his actions rather than his words.

When a person tells lies, his physical expression is often very stiff and limited. If he is smiling as he speaks, only the mouth will move. A real smile involuntarily causes movement of the mouth, eyes, forehead, cheeks, and jaw.

The liar's hand, leg and arm movements are toward his own body; he takes up little space. The person’s body language is closed off. Liars do not look relaxed, even though they may be trying to give the impression that they are.

When a person lies, he has a variety of ways to distract you from the untrue statement. Liars may move around the room and place objects between you and them, such as a book or coffee cup. They will feel uncomfortable facing and looking directly at you when talking and may turn their head and body away. An innocent person will typically go on the offensive, while a guilty person will get defensive.

When explaining something, a liar may put into the conversation more detail than is necessary. He will usually be uncomfortable with pauses or silences. The person may speak softly or in garbled words. A very accomplished liar is able to speak directly and with confidence, however; salespeople are great at this technique.

If you suspect someone of lying, change the topic of conversation abruptly. The liar will willingly change topics with you and become more relaxed. A person who is telling the truth will typically become confused by this sudden change. Another sign of someone telling a lie is yawning — the person may try and look as relaxed as possible, and yawing and stretching are ways of achieving this.

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Discussion Comments
By anon960993 — On Jul 13, 2014

Every time I ask my girlfriend is she's cheating or has ever cheated on me, she yawns. Sometimes it's a full yawn and other times it looks like she's trying to yawn but doesn't yawn all the way.

Also when I ask her a lot of times she's like no never, then yawns and doesn't seem to be bothered by the question. Also by looking at her lips, she kind of looks like she's smiling inside sometimes. Think those are true signs? We've been together for 10 years. I've been cheated on in about 90 percent of my relationships, so she says on I'm not like those girls but my gut is telling me she has or is. Hmm.

By anon341581 — On Jul 13, 2013

My boyfriend always yawns when I ask him where he was or who he is with. I have paid attention to when he yawns and I immediately get a sick feeling in the gut of my stomach.

He deletes all his text messages, phone history and emails ever since I found a bunch of nude photo's from "friends" on his phone. This was two months before we were supposed to get married.

I want/ed to believe he changed his ways and even told him I would prefer he tell me the truth than lie. Tonight he did it again and for whatever reason, decided to sleep in another bedroom with no explanation.

I know I am a sucker and now that I do not have the financial means to leave. I feel trapped.

By fBoyle — On Feb 14, 2013

@BioNerd-- I agree with you, some people are just too good at lying.

My girlfriend was constantly lying to me and I didn't notice any of these signs from her. She was so cool about it and relaxed.

I, on the other hand, cannot lie at all. I will be hesitant, and will usually laugh at the end of my sentence completely giving myself away. I'm no good at lying!

By SteamLouis — On Feb 14, 2013

@anon135565-- If you can see him face to face, also pay attention to what he's doing with his hands. When someone is lying, they will often touch their face with their hands. They might touch their hair or their forehead. It shows that they are uncomfortable because they are lying.

People who are lying also often avoid eye contact and will look somewhere else altogether.

By fify — On Feb 14, 2013

@anon187468-- That's interesting. I would still be careful though because he could just be tired.

I would like to believe that signs of lying can be seen from body language but I have never been good at reading them. I think reading emails or cell phone messages are better ways to catch a liar!

By anon187468 — On Jun 17, 2011

Yep. My boyfriend always yawns when I ask him anything that makes him uncomfortable. I have always thought it was a sign he was lying! I'm certain now that it is.

By BioNerd — On Feb 09, 2011

I have found that some liars are intimately acquainted with all these signs and know how to avoid them. These are the experts, the real cons, who know what they are doing, and can convince anybody. They are often moving, however, from one social group to the next, because they are eventually found out. This is the living pattern of a psychopath, or a pathological liar, who has no sympathy, and uses people for himself.

By anon135565 — On Dec 19, 2010

I haven't seen my ex-boyfriend in a long time. Throughout the five years we were not together, we became acquainted. However, thanks to my P.I. career, I found out that he was meeting other women through Craigslist for 'casual encounters.' I was shocked even though we weren't together and he had every right.

I let my guard down and so badly wanted to have him back. Because of the distance between us in cities, we talked and chatted on the phone. I was catching him in a lot of lies. One thing he kept doing when talking to me was yawning constantly when telling me what he was doing. It hurt me deeply when he was being so deceptive, especially when I had hope.

So, if someone is yawning too much, they could be lying!

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