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7 Global Myths About Liars

Written by: Janette Ghedotte, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Myth No.1: Beliefs are Based on Facts Beliefs are based more on emotions than on facts. What people believe, they believe to be true, even if they do not have evidence to support their position. From an individual’s point of view, subjective beliefs are right … regardless if they were incorrect or misled. Once something is believed, there is strong confirmation bias. Information to the contrary is ignored, discounted, or discarded. Many find it easier to stay the course than change one’s previous position.

Myth No.2 Inner Circle People Are Trustworthy

People tend to believe family members and those within their group affiliations (e.g., work, teams, communities, cultures, political party, or country of origin). Therefore, when inner circle members lie …, they have a “home-court” advantage and their lies are often not contested because of family relations, close proxemics, familiarity, or strong group association. Since they have direct access to the target, they can deliver deception without the usual “lie-detection” filters being activated. In addition, attractive people automatically have a ‘halo’ effect and credibility because of their good looks.

Myth No.3 Once People Realize a Lie, They Will Align with the TRUTH

When explanations do not make sense, people may go along with deception to avoid conflict or confrontation with the liar or other group members. Although nobody wants to admit they were deceived, it may be more stressful to accuse the liar or risk losing one’s group identity, status, or membership. Many turn a blind eye to deceit because they are getting something of value, or avoiding something negative, in the exchange. Therefore, instead of admitting they made a mistake of getting duped or confronting the liar, they may double-down on their beliefs and go along with the deception.


Myth No.4 Lies are Easy to Detect

People rate their lie-spotting abilities higher in their minds than in reality. So, they are surprised to discover their deception detection skills are about the same odds of a simple coin toss. Heads or tails, it does not matter. On average, there is slightly better than a 50-50% accuracy rate of catching deception (Bond & DePaulo, 2006). Chances are that you have been duped or blindsided more than once in your lifetime. Deception costs you valuable time, effort, money, and interpersonal relationship problems.


Feels awful, doesn’t it? There is a double standard regarding lying; even though people do not like being lied to, they both deliver and receive deception. Humans expect honesty from others, but do not hold themselves to the same standards. Have you ever noticed the word ‘lie’ is in the middle of and wrapped around the word ‘believe.’ Research by Verigin et al., (2019) indicate that those good at lying intentionally use the following deception tactics:

  1. blend lies with truthful information

  2. keep words simple

  3. give plausible explanations

No wonder why it can be difficult to detect embedded lies surrounded by elements of the truth.

Myth No.5 Liars Can’t Look You in the Eyes

How can you tell when people are lying? In 2006, a Global Research Team conducted two global World of Lies research studies across 75 countries to learn more about people’s beliefs about how liars behave. In the first study, 2320 participants responded to one question, “How can you tell when people are lying?” With 11,157 responses and 103 distinct beliefs, worldwide the no.1 response was the belief that liars avoid eye contact.

Approximately 64% of participants from Study No.1 mentioned that liars avert eye gaze when lying. The response “Liars can’t look you in the eyes” was mentioned first and most often. There was a significant drop in the second highest response; 28% of respondents said that liars are ‘nervous.’ The third and fourth top responses indicated that 25% of respondents believe liars tell ‘incoherent stories’ and 25% believe liars show deceptive ‘body movements.’ Interestingly, women gave more responses than men.


Myth No.6 Liars Increase Body Movement and Self-Touch

The closed-ended questionnaire results from the World of Lies Study No.2 revealed that over 70% of the 2500 respondents believe liars avoid eye contact. At 65%, the second top response was liars shift posture more. The third and fourth top responses revealed that liars increase body touch (64.8%) and tell longer stories when lying (62.2%).


Study No.2 Closed-Ended Questionnaire About Liars


Myth No.7 Liars Look Guilty Because of Shame and Remorse

Worldwide, people think liars look guilty and have feelings of shame or remorse when deceiving others. According to the World of Lies research, people believe liars increase eye gaze aversion, nervousness, fingers touching the body, shifting, and speech pattern changes. Some liars display these behaviors, but not all liars feel guilt, shame, or remorse. Although people around the world believe these behaviors are associated with deceit (Bond & Robinson, 1988; Ekman, 2001), these traits do not accurately identify all liars and are not mutually exclusive to liars.


Bust the Myths: The Truth About How Liars Behave

Despite widespread misconceptions about liars, experimental research indicate only a few behaviors reliably determine deceit (DePaulo et al., 2003). Even though liars and honest people are on the opposite ends of the spectrum, both can display similar body language expressions when being questioned. It is a myth to think only liars avert eye gaze and feel guilt, shame, or remorse. When truthful people feel uncomfortable or distressed about the topic being discussed, they display gestures that are typically associated with liars. Therefore, honest people who are shy, submissive, nervous, anxious, or uncomfortable may leave an incorrect impression that they are not credible or not telling the truth.


Liars are not all the same; they fall within a spectrum ranging from ordinary (e.g., unskilled, low-power, regular, and non-pathological) liars to extraordinary (e.g., highly skilled, powerful, extreme, prolific, and pathological) liars. Extraordinary liars are experts at deceiving others and do not feel discomfort or distress during deception. Instead of feeling guilty, extraordinary liars feel superior, entitled, and empowered when manipulating and deceiving others. Surprisingly, the body language expressions of extraordinary liars appear similar to truthful people and different from ordinary liars.


Throughout their lives, extraordinary liars have practiced and have gotten away with their lies. For extraordinary liars, it is easy to dupe others, get what they want, and avoid what they don’t want. They possess and increase their power when they take high risks to get big rewards. This includes breaking society norms, rules, and laws. In other words, extraordinary liars receive massive payoffs for lying especially when the stakes and the risks of getting caught are low because they appear similar to truthful people.


Instead of an increase in the stress hormone cortisol that ordinary liars may experience, extraordinary liars experience a decrease in cortisol levels, an increase in positive emotions (Keltner, Gruenfeld, & Anderson, 2003), and cognitive functioning (Keltner et al; Smith, Jostmann, Galinksy, & van Dijk, 2008). Unlike ordinary liars who feel guilt and distress, extraordinary feel better when lying. Therefore, all of these positive factors with minimal punishments reinforce the likelihood that extraordinary liars will continue lying with higher power, frequency, risks, and rewards to benefit themselves at a detriment to others.

Contact Janette Ghedotte of Accurate Body Language so that you can:

  • Spot the Lies.

  • Get to the Truth.

  • Avoid Costly Mistakes.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, and visit my website for more info!


 

Janette Ghedotte, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Truth & Deception Detection Expert Janette Ghedotte is a MA LLP Clinical Psychologist, Founder, and CEO of Accurate Body Language.


Accurate Body Language is the KEY to crack the code, unlock the vault of nonverbal communication, and reveal the secrets of human interaction.


With over 20 years of corporate business, marketing research, advertising & strategic brand positioning, and clinical psychology experience, Janette specializes in understanding the complexities of human behavior, interpersonal relationships, verbal, and nonverbal body language communication.

 

References:

  1. Bond, Charles & DePaulo, Bella. (2006). Accuracy of Deception Judgments. Personality and social psychology review: an official journal of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc. 10. 214-34. 10.1207/s15327957pspr1003_2.

  2. Bond, C. F., Jr., & Robinson, M. A. (1988). The evolution of deception. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 12, 295-308.

  3. DePaulo, B. M., Lindsay, J. J., Malone, B. E., Muhlenbruck, L., Charlton, K., & Cooper, H. (2003). Cues to deception. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 74-118.

  4. Ekman, P. (2001). Telling lies: Clues to deceit in the marketplace, politics, and marriage (rev. ed.). New York: Norton.

  5. Keltner, D., Gruenfeld, D. H., & Anderson, C. (2003). Power, approach, and inhibition. Psychological Review, 110, 265-284.

  6. Serota KB, Levine TR. A few prolific liars: Variation in the prevalence of lying. Journal of Language and Social Psychology. 2015 Mar; 34(2):138–57.

  7. Serota KB, Levine TR, Boster FJ. The prevalence of lying in America: Three studies of self-reported lies. Human Communication Research. 2010 Jan 1; 36(1):2–25.

  8. Smith, P. K., Jostmann, N. B., Galinksy, A. D., & van Dijk, W. (2008). Lacking power impairs executive functions. Psychological Science, 19, 441-447.

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