The Invention Of Lying And How To Deal With It – Part 2

Okkiiiee Dookkiiieeee here we go …. as has been requested by a couple of people to expand on, and as it is still one of the posts which gets the most views.  Here is Part 2 of the post about lying.

The Background

For anyone who hasn’t read the first post you can find it here.  In the first post however Paul EkmanI didn’t give a proper introduction as to the relatively recent discoveries regarding how people lie.  The father of this research is Paul Ekman.  He first coined the phrase microexpressions after he was working in a psychiatric ward and whilst running tests on patients one of them told him that she had lied to him.  He went over the footage and found the microexpression…it lasted for about a 15th of a second, but it was a look of pure emotion that she was trying to conceal.  This started his research into these ‘microexpressions’ and has resulted in years worth of research in the subject dispelling many myths along the way.

The Silent Six

After years of research Ekman categorised these microexpressions into six basic categories.  These are:

  • Anger
  • Disgust
  • Fear
  • Happiness
  • Sadness
  • Surprise

His research spanned many years,countries and cultures and he managed to prove beyond doubt that no matter the age, background, culture or nationality, these expressions are the same.  What is more, these expressions of emotion are involuntary; they are almost impossible to suppress or conceal. Everyone can try, of course but naturally most fail due to the strong feeling of emotion, all thoughts and feelings leave rational thought.

microexpressions, liar,lies,how to spot a lie

The Microexpressions shown by Tim Roth in his Roe as Cal Lightman in Lie To Me

But particularly when we are lying, “microexpressions” of powerfully felt emotions will invariably flit across our faces before we get a chance to stop them.

Fortunately for liars, as many as 99% of people will fail to spot these fleeting signals of inner torment (of the 15,000 whom Ekman had tested, only 50 people had been able to without training. He calls them “naturals”).

How To…

This is the interesting thing…anyone can learn a few simple techniques and increase their chances of spotting these micro expressions.  Now im not an expert so I am no-one to tell you how to do this, but I have been a student of these techniques and now can spot these microexpressions much more often than most.  There are webinars and courses you can go on, but two of the best books I have read I will paste in below.  If you want to focus on the micro expressions go for the Paul Ekman one, but for a full on instructional guide on body language as a whole then go with Joe Navarro, I recommend both highly.  Click on them below images to take you to amazon.


Bear in mind, these tools only help you gain an insight and with something like this you can never be 100% positive on your assumptions as to what someone is really thinking.  I use these little insights for my own knowledge and piece of mind.  Not to go calling people out on if I think their lying or not.  I mainly use these types of skills in the work environment as most people around me at home have no reason to lie to me, but I can keep an eye out.  People usually have their own reasons to lie which is up to them. I find it’s just nice to know what I should take with a pinch of salt 😉  Hopefully you will be able to aswell.

GA, GE and GN


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