It’s often said that the eyes are the window to the soul. And while this may be true, did you know that they can also reveal a lot about our thoughts and emotions? Our eyes are constantly sending signals to those around us, whether we realise it or not. From happiness to sadness, anger to fear, our eyes can betray what we’re really feeling.
But what about when it comes to lying? Can we tell if someone is lying by looking at their eyes? Let’s explore the language of lying eyes and the signs that we shouldn’t ignore.
The Microexpressions We Miss
Many of us rely on verbal signals, such as tone of voice and word choice, to detect lies. But did you realise that, according to Dr Mehrabin’s research, only about 7 percent of communication is transmitted through words? Indeed, an astonishing 93 percent of communication is nonverbal. Fascinating, isn’t it?
One fascinating aspect of nonverbal communication is microexpressions. Those tiny involuntary facial movements that last for less than a second. They may be tricky to spot, but they tell us a lot about a person’s genuine emotions. Interestingly, when someone is being less than truthful, their microexpressions can sometimes contradict their words, offering a glimpse into their true feelings. The eye is the central part of our face where microexpressions happen, and it is one of the key indicators in detecting lies.
10 Signs of Lying Eyes: Windows to Deception
Signs of lying can manifest in different ways, and they may vary from person to person. But there are some common cues that we should be aware of when trying to determine if someone is being less than honest with us.
Lack of Eye Contact
One of the most telling signs of deception is the avoidance of eye contact. When someone lies, guilt or discomfort may compel them to avert their gaze, evading detection. However, it’s important to consider that cultural norms or shyness can also influence eye contact, so this cue should be interpreted in context. A prime illustration of this phenomenon is the intriguing case of Frank Abagnale, a cunning con artist who skillfully deceived others while skillfully averting direct eye contact.
A subtle yet revealing cue is the quick raising of eyebrows, followed by a swift return to their original position. Even though we may not be consciously aware of it, we tend to raise our eyebrows in surprise when we hear something unexpected or unbelievable.
We all blink, but did you know that excessive blinking can be a sign of lying? When someone is being deceitful, their anxiety levels may increase, causing them to blink more frequently than usual. It can also manifest as rapid eye movements or fluttering eyelashes. While blinking can also be a nervous habit, when coupled with other cues, it may indicate that someone is not being entirely truthful.
Our pupils naturally dilate in response to different emotions, such as arousal or excitement. But did you know that they also dilate when we lie? This is because lying triggers the sympathetic nervous system, which causes our pupils to widen. The untrained eye may need to pay attention to this cue because it occurs quickly.
A genuine smile involves the whole face, including the muscles around the eyes. When someone is lying, they may force a smile that doesn’t reach their eyes, causing them to appear insincere or unnatural. Psychologist Paul Ekman, a pioneer in the study of emotions and lying behaviour, explains, “When the timing or intensity of the smile is off, that can be a sign someone is lying.”
Rubbing or touching one’s eyes is a common gesture associated with deceit. It could be due to feelings of discomfort or an attempt to shield the truth from others. However, it’s essential to note that this cue can also be a sign of fatigue or allergies.
When someone is lying, they may avoid looking directly at the person they’re deceiving. Rather than making direct eye contact, individuals who are being deceitful may exhibit behaviours such as scanning the room or fixating on an object to evade detection. If you suspect someone of lying, you can try posing a question and carefully observing their eye movements as they respond. If their gaze continues to wander or they avoid making eye contact, it could indicate dishonesty.
On the other hand, someone who is trying to deceive you may hold prolonged eye contact in an attempt to appear truthful. This can be seen as an overly aggressive or intense stare that makes the other person feel uncomfortable. Who knows, but the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy might have used this strategy to win over his victims’ trust.
Direction of Gaze
The direction in which someone’s eyes move can also reveal a lot about their mental process. For example, when recalling information, their eyes tend to glance up and to the left (from their perspective). However, when creating or fabricating information, their eyes may look upward and to the right. This cue can be challenging to catch as it happens quickly and may require close observation.
Finally, narrowing of eyes can be an indication of lying. Unconsciously, a liar may close one or both eyes to shield themselves from the truth or to avoid establishing eye contact. This cue can also indicate discomfort or scepticism, so again, it’s crucial to consider it in context.
Trust Your Intuition
While these signs can be indicative of lying, they are not foolproof. Some people may exhibit these cues naturally, while others may be masters of deception and able to control their nonverbal behaviour, like police or detectives who practise to become skilled at deciphering these cues accurately. But here’s the thing: it’s also important to trust your gut and intuition. Like, if you get this weird feeling when someone is talking to you, it might be worth paying closer attention to their body language and using it as a way to figure out if they’re being deceptive or not.