How to Become a Human Lie Detector

Deceiver, dissembler
Your trousers are alight
From what pole or gallows
Do they dangle in the night?
- William Blake, "The Liar"

…Or in other words, “Liar, liar pants on fire.”

Would you like to be a human lie detector? If so, then you need to be very observant of body language, speech patterns and handwriting.

A new study from the Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences at Haifa University in Israel, published in the November 2009 issue of the journal “Applied Cognitive Psychology,” indicates that a person’s handwriting can reveal signs of deception. But, of course, I could have told them that a long time ago!

Try this experiment. Have someone write a paragraph (with at least three sentences) on unlined paper for you. Ask them to lie in one (and only one) of the sentences. Now, look carefully at how they wrote (as oppose to what they wrote).

In speech, when someone lies, they will often hesitate for a brief moment before they lie. This is because it takes the brain longer to “think up” a lie than to tell the truth. In handwriting, this brain pause, when the brain is conjuring up the fib, will appear as a gap or space in the sentence before the lie.

When a person tells a falsehood, it can often be seen in his body language, as the liar will often fidget or move slightly away from you. Look for the body language equivalent of this in handwriting by seeing if a word or part of any sentence moves up or down or out of alignment.

Also, sometimes when someone lies, she will tend to speak more softly, garble her words, and stiffen her body. Or she may get defensive, shout and get in your face. Look for the corresponding movements in the handwriting by seeing if the pressure of a word (or words) in the script is lighter or hard to read (the person who retreats) or if the pressure gets heavier (the defensive liar).

Were you able to pick out the lie? If so, you may have a future as a human polygraph!

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