You Can’t Hide Those Lying Eyes

Are others telling you the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Can you tell the difference between half-truths and whole-truths? Most of us are only guessing when what we’re hearing doesn’t seem correct. But police, judges, FBI agents, psychiatrists and many others are trained in techniques for how to spot a liar.

According to BBC, research conducted in our country shows that every person tells, on average, two lies a day. Each one of us has our own tell-tale signs when we attempt to stretch the truth. People who are good at poker can often tell when other players are bluffing by watching body language, facial expressions and other factors which give their opponents away. In the same sense, we can learn to read a person’s expressions and determine whether or not they are being truthful.

Believe it or not, we are all initially good people and except for pathological liars, or those who confuse falsities to be realities, we don’t really want to lie. Sometimes we will unconsciously show that what we are saying is not the truth. I’m sure a lot of us know about shifty eyes or lack of eye contact suggesting perjury, but there are many other signals a liar gives as well.

As a student in Criminalistics, a course offered at Western every spring, I have learned some of the signs used to indicate when people are telling stories. The professor for the course, Lieutenant Glenn Robinson of the Rock Hill Police Department, explained to our class, “The eyes are said to be the key to a person’s soul.” So, here are some hints he gave us to spot those lying eyes:

When a person is asked about a memory, such as “When were you born?” or “What did you do last night?” . . .

If the person is telling the truth, his/her eyes will look up and to the left. A person’s eyes will do this when they are accessing information from their memory. Interestingly enough, the memory portion of your brain is located on the left side. On the other hand, if the person is lying, his/her eyes will look up and right. Eyes will do this when they are accessing information from imagination. Guess what? The imagination portion of your brain is located on the right side.

When a person is asked about an auditory memory, such as “What did you hear last night?” or “What is your favorite song?” . . .

If the person is telling the truth, his/her eyes will stay centered and look left. However, if they are lying, his/her eyes will stay centered and look to the right.

When a person is asked about tactile responses, such as how something felt . . .

If the subject is being truthful, his/her eyes will either look straight down or they will be closed. But if he/she is not being truthful the person’s eyes will start fluttering, and they may even experience rapid eye movements.

Along with eye movements, body language will also detect a liar. A defensive posture can sometimes be seen in a nervous fibber, which is when a person will sit with their arms across their chest and with their legs crossed. This posture shows that they are closed to the conversation, and they really don’t want to talk. They may also tuck their elbows close into their body, become rigid and sometimes fidgety. A truthful person will appear more open to the conversation and will sit or stand with their elbows away from their body. They will usually be positioned equilateral in the seat with their feet on the floor, shoulder-width apart and with their head straight.

According to, if someone is lying to you, they may put their hands on their face, unconsciously “covering the lie.” Also, a person who is telling a lie is under a good bit of stress, so their pupils may become narrow.

It is also possible to spot someone lying when you hear them speak. Most people talk at about 120 words per minute. But when they are lying, the rate at which they are speaking will increase. They may stammer or stutter words, which usually does not pose a problem for them. Stalling their responses by clearing their throat, repeating or rephrasing questions, and asking for questions to be repeated can also be signs of nervousness experienced due to the fabrication they are about to tell. They may also try to stall in order to think up a believable response. Ever heard the expressions “he was singing soprano” or “he sang like a canary”? Well, when a man is fibbing, the pitch and volume of his voice will increase.

So, whether it’s a little white lie or a tall tale, we can blame our unconscious for ratting us out.