Recent news reminds us that lies surround us. We have the recent college admissions scandal, public figures lying to congress, etc. But how do we know on a personal level when someone we’re in a relationship with—romantic, friendship, familial—is lying to us? Sounds simple, but according to an article in Psychology Today, the key to detecting a lie may be in the art of listening.
…if you want to know who’s telling the truth, don’t bother trying to make inferences from hand gestures; other nonverbal cues have similarly not proven to improve people’s lie-detecting radar. Because participants in the Italian studies who lied had the most difficulty getting the details right about the situations in which they found themselves, your best bet is to ask open-ended questions in which you obtain those all-important specific pieces of information. As the authors conclude, “Verbal content is more diagnostic than nonverbal behavior” (p. 7). When you get into the questioning itself, you can up the ante further by draining those all-important cognitive resources that the liar needs to try to hide the truth. You might start, if you want to be chatty about it, with informal non-event related questions, but then get right into those details and don’t let up. On the other hand, because it will be clear that you’re trying to get to the truth, you might decide it’s not worth it and wait to see if this happens again. At that point, you can pull out the stops with your “interrogation.”
Fulfilling relationships depend on partners being honest with each other. Knowing how to get at the truth can help you decide which relationships are the ones worth keeping.
To read this article in its entirety, click here.
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