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The Top Seven Signs that Someone is Lying to You

When it comes to finding out whether or not you're being lied to, Gepetto had it easy. All it took was one look at Pinocchios's growing schnoz and he knew. Of course, most of us don't have it that easy but could sure benefit if we did.

Sworn In

Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Probably not--estimates say most people lie once or twice a day!

It seems that we're largely a nation of liars, with some estimates saying that most people lie to others one or twice a day, and in about 30 percent to 38 percent of our interactions in all.

Why we lie varies. Around the age of 4 or 5, when we start telling lies, it's done not maliciously, but rather to gain awareness and use the power of language, says Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist with New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Later on, we lie to get things we want, for personal gain or to stay out of trouble. We tell "white lies" to protect other's feelings, and then there are the pathological liars among us, the people who feel compelled to lie no matter what.

So, with liars all around us (don't lie -- we ALL lie at one point or another, even those "little white lies" count), it's imperative to know the signs that someone may be lying to you. Here are seven of the classic signs to watch out for ...

Seven Common Signs of Lying

  1. No eye contact. Generally, if someone is lying they will not look you in the eye, at least during a certain part of the conversation. Normally, people make eye contact for at least half of a conversation, so anything less than this could be suspicious. One caveat: there are some people who will take great pains to make eye contact with you even if they're lying, simply to make you think they're not.

  2. Lie Detector Test

    You don't need a lie detector test to find out if someone's lying to you --just check out these seven signs of lying.

  3. Change in voice. A change in the pitch of a person's tone, or a lot of stammering (umm, ah), or throat clearing could indicate a lie.

  4. Unusual body language. If a person taps their foot a lot, fidgets with their hands, raises their shoulders, turns away from you or brings their hand to their face (to touch their chin or nose, etc.) -- in other words, if they act nervous or uncomfortable -- it could mean they're telling a lie. Also watch out for blushing (or becoming pale) and increased blinking.

  5. Something sounds fishy. Making statements that contradict each other, are inconsistent or don't sound quite right are usually part of a lie.

  6. Overly defensive. Sometimes when a person is lying they will become extremely defensive, refusing to answer any questions and even accusing you of lying. This may mean they have something to hide.

  7. Changes subject easily. If someone is lying and you change the subject, chances are high that they'll go right along with it. A person telling the truth, however, will likely ask why you changed the subject and want to go back to it.

  8. Humor or sarcasm. A guilty person will often try to change the subject using humor or sarcasm.

Of course, no one behavior can tell for sure whether or not someone is telling the truth or lying. While you should trust your instinct, if you're not sure it's best to try to get some evidence to back up your accusation. Rather than relying on a specific behavior, catching a liar in the act is best done by watching their normal behaviors. When those behaviors suddenly change, that's when a lie has likely been told.

Recommended Reading

The Powerful Influencing Effect of People's Faces on Your Behavior

Organophosphates: What You Don't Know Can Indeed Hurt You


Secret Skills: How to Tell When Someone is Lying

How Many of Us Tell Lies

How to Detect Lies

MSNBC: Why People Lie and How to Tell the Truth if They Are

How to Know if Someone is Lying

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