How can you tell? Well, it’s quite impossible to tell a written lie unless you corroborate the person’s story, but when you see someone up front in reality, there are some nifty tricks to tell if the person is playing an April Fools prank on you, or really telling you the truth.
1. Look for micro-expressions! They’re the flashes of true emotion that appear on a person’s face when they think nobody’s looking. You’d want to look out for an emotion of distress, characterised by the eyebrows being drawn upwards towards the middle of the forehead, causing short lines to appear across the skin of the forehead.
2. Look for nose touching and covering of the mouth. There might be a rush of adrenaline to the capillaries of the nose when a person is lying, causing it to itch and for the person to touch it more often. A liar is also more likely to cover their mouth, almost sub-consciously stopping the lies from coming through. It sounds cheesy but it does happen!
3. Look for eye movements! When people are trying to remember details, their eyes will move to the upper left, because our left brain controls memory. Some people say liars will break off eye contact with you, but it seems that the rumour has become so widespread that now liars will maintain even longer eye contact with you than normal, so eye movements aren’t very accurate.
4. Look for sweat. People will perspire more when they’re lying, but then again there’re people who perspire more than others naturally, so this has got to be accompanied with other signs.
5. Look out for exaggerated details or repeated sentences. Liars will tend to make an effort to sound convincing, so they may tell you more than you need to know. They may also repeat the same phrase or sentence word for word because it sounded convincing to them the first time.
6. Look out for impulsive emotional responses. Timing and duration may be off when they answer your question. If you ask someone a question and they immediately answer, it may mean they had rehearsed the answer beforehand.
7. Look out for their voice. They may talk more quickly or slowly than normal, or may develop a higher pitch or quavering tone. They may also stutter. All these sound very common-sensical and you’d wonder who still stammers when they lie nowadays, but it does happen, I assure you. Sometimes I still stammer when I lie.
8. Look out for their body parts. Liars may be stressed and rather than adopt a relaxed posture, they may be stiff and limited, touching their face, ear or the back of their neck. They may also fold their arms, inter-lock their legs, grip the sides of their chairs till their knuckles turn white, play with their hair or adjust their tie. Liars may try to appear to be at ease, purposely yawning or leaning to the side, though.
As you can see from the 8 points above, it’s not always that simple to detect a liar. Some, or even most, of those points may apply to people who are telling the truth who are just nervous, and people sometimes naturally perform such actions too. And it’s quite rude, I suppose, to point out to people that they’re lying based on these physical cues. I sometimes perform them, so perhaps I feel a bit defensive that my lies can be seen through so easily. However, do bear in mind the possibility that whoever is talking to you may just be cheating, and always be careful and wary!