How to Keep People From Lying To Your Face
We all do it; we blame the traffic, a fictional dead aunt, or climate change for turning up late to work when we’re really just suffering from a bad hangover. In fact, we lie once every three and a half minutes. But getting lied to, whether you’re a manager, or a mom, or both, isn’t fun. Good news: Researchers from Finland’s University of Tampere confirms an age-old trick: You can discourage dishonesty in your life by maintaining eye contact with the suspected liar.
“This was the first study to demonstrate the effect by using actual eye contact with another person and by measuring not just any form of dishonesty, but lying,” says Jonne Hietanen, the first author of the study. But, she cautioned, “also remember that, because the results were obtained in an experimental situation, one must be careful not to draw too far-reaching conclusions.”
Still, she and her colleagues say the findings could be useful for police interrogations. Or, you know, for figuring out which of your colleagues ate your lunch.
The Finnish study published these conclusions in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, after looking at the impact of eye contact on lying among 51 participants aged 19 to 37, by using a two-player computer game.
In the experiment, participants were made to play a lying game on a computer against another staged person they believed to be a fellow participant, separated by a smart glass window that could change in opacity. The smart glass window turned transparent before the participant made a move, allowing them to see their opponent. In half of the trials, the opponent looked directly at the participant’s eyes; in the other half, they looked down at their computer screen. Ultimately, the opponent’s direct gaze was found to reduce subsequent lying in the game.
So, the next time if you suspect someone might deal you a falsehood, why wait for the fidgeting, a stiff upper body, or a fake smile? (All signs of a liar, per fraud examiner Pamela Meyer.) Just maintain good eye contact, and the chances you’ll be lied to will drop.