Here are the four telltale signs of spotting a liar.
1. Liars talk less about themselves.
It’s all about creating a distance from the situation, so liars remove themselves immediately from the story. Zanden’s example of this behavior was with Lance Armstrong who originally, when asked about performance-enhancing drugs, created a hypothetical scenario in which to separate himself from it all. However, in 2013 when he finally could no longer lie about the situation, he used 75% more personal pronouns in his truths. He’d been caught and there was no longer a reason to keep that distance going.
2. They’re negative about the situation.
If someone’s lying about why they’re late, they’re going to blame the “stupid” traffic, or the “dumb” train that never came. They’ll also talk about how much something “sucks,” or how much they “hate” whatever supposedly caused them to be late. According to Zanden, liars do this because in some ways they actually feel quite guilty about the fact that they’re lying.
3. Their stories are “overly-simplified.”
It’s not easy to come up with a lie, even a bad one, so because of the work it entails, language tends to get disturbed and messy. It takes some effort to come up with a lie, so liars try to keep their untrue stories simple and to the point.
4. They use a lot irrelevant “facts.”
Although the plot of their fallacy is simple, the way they describe it is over the top. I know when I lie to get a “sick” day, I’m not just “sick,” but “I’ve been throwing up for hours and I’m pretty sure it’s food poisoning or maybe not, and maybe I should go to the hospital, but I really don’t want to, so I’m going to wait until noon and figure it out then.” I’m very babbly, even if it’s in an email to someone, as if I need to convince them of the truth by adding all these absurd details, details that I’m likely to forget a day later, therefore messing up my lie, so I have to tell another lie, of course.