Spot the Lie

This morning i bumped into this revelatory short animation on how to spot a liar by Noah Zandan and TED Ed. They used communications science and linguistic text analysis to explore the four most common patterns in the subconscious language of deception. Have a look.

The four pointers are,

  1. Liars reference themselves less when making deceptive statements. They write or talk more about others, often using the third person to distance and disassociate themselves from their life.
  2. Liars tend to be more negative because, on a subconscious level, they feel guilty about lying.
  3. Liars typically explain events in simple terms, since our brains struggle to build a complex lie. Judgment and evaluation are complex things for our brains to compute.
  4. Even though liars keep descriptions simple, they tend to use longer and more convoluted sentence structure, inserting unnecessary words and irrelevant but factual-sounding details in order to pad the lie.

Much of Zandan’s narrative brings to mind the work of Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception who said that ”on a given day, studies show that you may be lied to anywhere from 10 to 200 times.” I have ordered my copy at Amazon, should be an interesting read.


” When you combine the science of recognizing deception with the art of looking, listening, you exempt yourself from collaborating in a lie. You start up that path of being just a little bit more explicit, because you signal to everyone around you, you say, “Hey, my world, our world, it’s going to be an honest one. My world is going to be one where truth is strengthened and falsehood is recognized and marginalized.” And when you do that, the ground around you starts to shift just a little bit. ”

Pamela Meyer, TED 2011

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