Whether these are innocent white lies (sorry I was late – the traffic was terrible) or momentously earth-shattering untruths (no, he’s not your son), being deceived is never pleasant.
But, according to Noah Zandan, author of TED-Ed lesson The Language Of Lying, you can work out whether you’re being lied to without having to resort to a polygraph test, in just four simple steps.
- Liars refer to themselves less
Liars are more likely to distance themselves when making deceptive statements, often referring to themselves in the third person.
For example, they are more likely to say ‘the car wasn’t driven by anyone’ than ‘I didn’t drive the car’.
- Liars are more negative
On a subconscious level, liars feel guilty about lying, so their language tends to be more negative.
For example, they might say ‘I didn’t cheat on that stupid test’ or ‘the traffic was awful – I hate my commute’.
- Liars explain events in simple terms
As liars are making things up, they tend to simplify their stories. Watch out for over-simplified explanations.
- Liars use long sentences
Although liars keep their stories simple, they can also waffle and pad their stories out with unnecessary detail.