How to tell if someone is lying to you by watching their face

Here are some of the facial expressions Bouton suggests looking out for

We also might find ourselves with fewer cheaters.
We also might find ourselves with fewer cheaters.

Just about everyone you know tells low-stakes lies, but some people even go so far as to lie about important matters that could forever change their relationships, end their employment, or even send them to jail.

Detecting high-stakes liars is often the work of the FBI, and they frequently look to facial expressions, body language, and verbal indicators as signals, or “tells,” that someone is lying.

Mark Bouton, an FBI agent for 30 years and author of “How to Spot Lies Like the FBI,” tells Business Insider that he used certain tells to help identify Timothy McVeigh as a suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing. But being able to read facial expressions to detect lies can be beneficial even if you're not conducting criminal investigations, he says.

“There are a number of facial expressions and associated reactions that could indicate someone is lying to you,” he says. “Some are caused by nervousness, some by chemical reactions, and others by physical reactions.”

“It's best to observe someone for a while as you make small talk or ask innocuous questions, in order to see what his usual reactions are."

To start, he says it's important to understand how the person in question normally acts.

“It's best to observe someone for a while as you make small talk or ask innocuous questions, in order to see what his usual reactions are, including tics he may have,” he says. “Then if he exhibits several lying indicators when you ask more pointed or suggestive questions, and these are not ones he previously performed, you can be confident that he's likely lying.”

Here are some of the facial expressions Bouton suggests looking out for:


Eyes darting back and forth

via GIPHY

“This is a physiological reaction to him feeling uncomfortable or trapped by your questions that he doesn't want to answer,” Bouton says. “It's a throwback to when people had to seek an escape route when they feared they were in a dangerous situation, such as facing a human or animal adversary.”


Rapid blinking

via GIPHY

“A person will ordinarily blink about five or six times a minute, or once every 10 or 12 seconds,” Bouton says. “When stressed — for instance, when someone knows he's lying — he may blink five or six times in rapid succession.”

Bouton says exceptions to the usual blink rate mostly have to do with production of dopamine in the body. For example, a person with Parkinson's disease will have a noticeably slower blink rate than what is usual, while a person with schizophrenia will blink more rapidly than normal.


Closing eyes for more than one second at a time

via GIPHY

Bouton says that when a person closes his eyes for a second or two, this may indicate he's lied to you, since this is a type of defense mechanism. Normally, he explains, a person will blink at a speed of 100 to 400 milliseconds, or 0.10 to 0.40 of a second.


Looking up to the right

via GIPHY

“When you ask a normal, right-handed person about something he's supposed to have seen, if he looks upward and to his left, he's truly accessing his memory of the incident,” Bouton says. “However, if he looks upward and to his right, he's accessing his imagination, and he's inventing an answer.”

Bouton says that left-handed people will usually have just the opposite reactions.

And some people will stare straight ahead when trying to recall a visual memory, he says.


Looking directly to the right

via GIPHY

“If you ask about what a person heard, his eyes will shift toward his left ear to recollect the sound he heard, but if his eyes shift toward his right, he's about to fib,” Bouton says.


Looking down to the right

via GIPHY

“His eyes will shift downward and to his left if he's going to tell you his memory of a smell or touch or sensation, such as a cold draft or a terrible odor,” Bouton explains. “But his eyes will shift down and to his right if he's going to lie.”


Bunched skin beneath and wrinkles beside the eyes

via GIPHY

Bouton says that when people genuinely smile, the skin around their eyes bunch and wrinkle.


Face touching

via GIPHY

Bouton explains that a chemical reaction causes people's faces to itch when they lie.


Pursed lips

via GIPHY

“A person's mouth will often go dry as she's lying,” Bouton says. “She may do a sucking motion, pursing her lips, to try to overcome this.”

When their lips are so tightened that they appear pinched and white, this can indicate lying.


Excessive sweating

via GIPHY

Bouton says sweat may appear on the forehead, cheeks, or back of the neck, and you'll likely observe the person try to wipe it away.


Blushing

via GIPHY

Blushing is an involuntary reflex caused by sympathetic nervous system (this activates your fight-or-flight response) and is a response to the release of adrenaline.


Head shaking

via GIPHY

Often when people tell the truth they will nod their heads simultaneously in agreement with what they're saying. But if they shake their heads in disagreement with what they've said, their bodies are betraying their lie.

Read more:

• European PMI day: France is holding everyone else back
• Google Chrome is getting a redesign — here's what it looks like
• 12 things successful people do right before bed

Read the original article on Business Insider UK. © 2015. Follow Business Insider UK on Twitter.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in