Eye Movements and Lying

Have you ever heard of the expression “The eyes are the window to the soul”? When people are thinking of different things, they have different eye movements. This is because we hold different kinds of information in different parts of our brain. Depending on what we are thinking about, our eyes will go in one particular direction. Although eye movement can give you some identification, it would be foolish to judge if someone is lying to you based on their eye movement alone.

Eye Movement and Lying

Common eye movements for right-handed people (for left-handed people it’s the opposite) are the following:

Looking up to the left:When people try to visually recall a memory like remembering a childhood memory, therefore they are probably telling you the truth.

Looking up to the right:When people are asked about statistics or data like adding or subtracting numbers. But this eye movement can also mean that they are lying because they are trying to visualize something that never really happened.

Looking down to the left:This is an eye movement that often occurs when people speak to themselves, trying to put together an answer. 

Looking down to the right:This is an emotional eye movement when people usually are upset.

Looking horizontally to the left or to the right:An eye movement direction horizontally to the left can mean that someone is telling the truth because they are trying to remember a noise or sound that they are familiar with. Looking horizontally to the right can indicate that you have just heard a sound that you do not know, and you are trying to figure out what that sound is.

Other Tips:

  • Usually if someone is lying to you they will loose their eye contact with you, but as soon as they stop lying, they will regain their eye contact with you to try to understand whether you actually believed them or not.
  • The opposite of the above point can also be used to detect liars. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable while speaking to you because of too much eye contact, it may mean that they are just trying to maintain eye contact by staring in your eyes. A normal eye contact should be about 50%.
  • The blink rate will dramatically increase for someone who has just said a lie to you. If in a 2 minute conversation their average blink rate is once in every 3-4 seconds, but in that 2 minutes you notice their blink rate increases to 1-2 times per second, that is the part where they are probably lying to you.
  • Depending on the different cultures and backgrounds, not having eye contact may be just a sign of inferior or respect.

When it comes to your closest friends or your family, have in mind that some people may lie to you, just to protect you or not hurt your feelings.  Also, if people know that you have a few skills up your sleeve and one of them is that you can detect liars, a lot of the people you know will not confront you. So be subtle when applying any kind of lie detecting skills you might have learned.

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