Body Language Signs to Observe in Lie Detection

by Percival J. Meris on May 2, 2011

Lie Detection

lie detection

Lie Detection Photo Courtesy of Arutha via Flicker

LIE DETECTION NEEDS NO POLYGRAPH MACHINE TO CARRY OUT. All it needs is basic body language reading skill.

Every person should possess the skill of lie detection, if he is to obtain truth in communication. For, conveyance of truth is communication’s ultimate reason for being.

Communication based on falsehood leads to confusion and erroneous decisions that could at times end up in catastrophic results. For this reason, an ever-vigilant recognition of this type of communication is always a mandatory option.

Psychological Processes of Telling a Lie

When a person tells a lie, his thoughts are dominated by the intention to sound convincing in his dishonesty. Lest he be caught or questioned, he subconsciously restricts the volume of information he gives out to his listener.

He begins to feel a build-up of internal pressure, usually out of fear or guilt, which he is careful not to leak out. Owing to this, he attempts to distance himself from his lie by trying to diminish his responsibility in regards to the issue or topic.

A Few Ways the Body Betrays a Liar’s Covert Intentions

Unfortunately for him, this internal pressure translates into physical manifestations, which an observer can read as body language. In his attempt to hide his lying intention, the liar either restricts his ways or exaggerates them.

These actions represent deviations from his normal everyday behavior. They may be observed in unusual physical movements or manner of speaking. Here are three examples:

  1. Hand Movements
  2. Usually, the liar moves his hands slowly, an unconscious tendency to restrict the amount information he gives out. However, a proficient liar, on the other hand, would rehearse the lie, but unconsciously tend to perform his movements exaggeratedly.

    Also, observe how frequently he touches his face. Particularly, he covers his mouth in an unconscious attempt to block the lie from leaving his lips.

    His nose is also a favorite landing place for his hands. He does this partly because he feels an itch there due to increased blood circulation and partly because it covers his mouth at the same time.

    Alongside some verbal statements, the liar quickly lifts and drops one or both hands – much like a shoulder shrug. However, unlike an honest shoulder shrug, these movements do not mean anything that relates to “not knowing” or “not caring”. They are actually just unconscious gestures of disowning the lie.

  3. Speech Terminology
  4. A liar’s statements are couched in negative terms, reflective of the negativity (untruth) that exists in his mind at the moment of lying. In an unconscious attempt to dissociate himself from the lie, he refers less to himself, and precedes his opening statement with a verbal disclaimer.


    A liar would say:

    “You probably won’t believe this, but I can assure you (verbal disclaimer) my car was not (negative term) there when the accident happened. God (no bold reference to self) knows how it could cause an accident at the same time.”

    An honest person would say:

    “I was at home, and my car was in my garage. I don’t know how it could possibly have been on the road and caused an accident at the same time.”

  5. Rate of Speech
  6. A liar speaks at a noticeably slow pace. This gives his mind enough time to think of words to frame his lie so as to sound convincing and then to think about the next step he is to take.

    Moreover, the slow speech gives itself more weight, and allows the listener to absorb everything he says. In this situation, he lessens his chance of being questioned and caught.

More Ways the Body Betrays a Liar’s Covert Intentions

Here is a video I borrowed from to supplement the lie detection techniques I have presented above. You will also be able to see the facial expressions and bodily movements, associated with lying.

The video width, however, does not fit this page. So, you have to see it on another page. After watching, remember to return here to read the rest of the article.

Watch the video now by clicking HERE.

Try This Lie Detection Experiment

Try this lie detection experiment on someone you suspect of lying – let’s say about his whereabouts at a certain hour of the day.

Upon returning home, ask him where he has been. Then, tell him you heard on the radio about a major accident that took place at the exact location where he was at that time. Ask him if this incident caused him any trouble at all.

If he is lying, he would go along with what you said. If not, he would insist he saw no accident.

For this to be effective, you have to fabricate a scenario that sounds so true to him. Use an incident he could not have possibly missed, if it were true.

Done right, this technique never fails in any attempt at lie detection.


Do you want to become a master of lie detection? As an expert human lie detector, you can judge within 60 seconds of analyzing what people say and do whether or not they can be trusted – even without listening to them.

A good book to learn this skill from is Detect Deceit, written by Simon Cruise. Just click on the book title, if you are interested to know more.

At any rate, no matter what level of proficiency you choose to be in, the art of lie detection through body language reading is one skill you should strive to learn.

Main Keyphrase

lie detection


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian May 3, 2011 at 10:09 am

Hi Percival,

Great article, we teach communications and one thing we don’t teach, that maybe we should is body language too.

Thanks again and great article.


Brian recently posted..My Communication Style Questionnaire

Percival J. Meris May 4, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Hi, Brian.

Thanks for stopping by.

Considering that 93% of human communication is done through the body, people should educate themselves in the science and art of body language reading. Many of the important messages remain hidden beneath the words, if people cannot discern them.

Hope to hear from you again in the future.


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