Detecting Lies in Verbal Responses


Human communication is an extremely complex exchange. When speaking, a human being produces around 70-100 verbal and non verbal cues per second. With the average person capable of only processing around 7 bits of information at one time, it’s no wonder so many of us can be deceived. 

Detecting Lies in Verbal Responses

Detecting lies in verbal responses is not an easy thing to do. However, understanding body language and verbal responses can give you some clues whether or not you are being lied to. Below are some verbal responses a liar can use:

·   Speed and Tone of Voice – A person’s voice is an easy way to detect if someone is lying. Liars tend to change the speed at which they talk or will raise or lower the tone of their voice, and some will actually stutter if they realize they have been ‘detected’.

·   Exaggerated Details – When people lie about certain things, they often give you a more detailed answer to a question than necessary.  They are ‘buying time’ here where they will try and stop you from asking more specific questions on the same subject. By giving you more details than expected, it also makes your job more difficult to detect a lie because you have more information to analyze.

·   Did they actually answer the question – If you asked a question like “did you do it”? And they answered with “I would never do that”, that is not actually answering your question. A normal answer would be “I didn’t do that”. Make sure your questions are very direct, because people find it very difficult to lie to a direct question, unless of course it has been rehearsed many times.

·   Pronoun Changes – When a person wants to distance themselves from something they will start using pronouns that distance them. An example is when they want to ‘claim’ something they will use ‘my house’ whereas if they want to distance themselves from something they will use ‘the house’.

·   Verb Changes – Manipulating verb tenses is very common with liars.  An example could be “have you ever used drugs”? Given by an answer “no I do not use drugs”. There answer implies that they are not using drugs now, but doesn’t answer the question, have they ‘ever’ used drugs.

·   Order in Lists – A parent who is asked to name their children’s names will often start from the oldest first. The same applies to a boss who is asked to name their employees; they will usually start with the most favored employee and finish with the least favored. Changing the order usually means that something is not right.

·   Mismatching Common Phrases – A perfect example of this is when O.J. Simpson referred to his wife having “downs and ups” instead of the more common phrase “ups and downs”.

·   Asking for a Question to be Repeated – When someone asks for a question to be repeated, it usually is not because they didn’t hear the question or they didn’t understand the question; it’s because they want to gain some time to figure out how they will answer more appropriately.

·   Avoiding the use of Contractions – Liars will often say “did not” instead of didn’t. A classic example is President Bill Clinton’s statement “I did not have sex with Monica Lewinski”.

·   Uses Unnecessary Words – Words and phrases such as ‘to be honest’, ‘actually’, ‘to tell the truth’ and ‘the truth is’ can often be used by a liar. They mean that they have been lying so far and now they want to say something that is the truth.  

Everyone deserves ‘the whole truth and nothing but the truth’. Using the above information you can at least detect when someone is possibly lying to you, but make sure to look at things as a whole. Lie detection is a combination of verbal responses, eye contact and body language so gather as much information as possible before jumping to any conclusions.

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