Sincerity and deceit can be difficult to detect, but fortunately there is a tool to help us in this task: body language.
Everybody would like to know when people are telling the truth and when they are lying, when they are saying what their true feelings and are not just being polite, and a good advice could be by checking their words against their body language to make sure both express the same.
Many times the body language is more reliable than the words themselves, because the body has its own ways to express if someone is telling the truth, is hiding something or simply is telling a lie.
If we want to convince someone that we are saying a true, usually we tend to look them in the eye and gesticulate with our hands, holding them out palms upwards, as symbol that we have nothing to hide. People generally performed this action unconsciously to strengthen that they are telling the truth and are being sincere.
People hiding the truth or their deepest feelings are sometimes betrayed by their gesticulations. Hands often unconsciously show the real feelings as they talk.
People who tell lies often try to control the movements of the hands, joining them or putting them into the pockets, concealing the palms to avoid detection.
The misleading person who gesticulates less than normal, could make small touching movements, such as putting a hand on its head, particularly the mouth, an eye, an ear or neck as if the liar were trying not to talk, see or hear a lie.
When people hide the truth on their deepest feelings are sometimes reveled by their gestures. Their hands could unconsciously evidence their feelings as they talk.
For example, a nervous politician’s supplicatory palms up hand, display would question his or her claim to be decided and confident. Because of this, many liars tend to avoid unconscious hand movements that can betray, hiding them in their pockets or holding both hands together.
A child denying something did wrong, could hide his hands behind its back, and unfaithful spouse might stand with arms folded, arguing his or her innocence.
We must keep in mind that a very clever liar can control his movements and gestures and convince us that telling the truth.
Misleading people who gesticulate very discreet or soft, make it less obvious moves, such as touching a finger on the mouth, or ear, or neck, as if the liar was trying to not say, hear or see a lie.
Of course that in all cases it is important to consider the environment, the situation and that too often people simply feel itching and the need to scratch, or have a habit or are nervous without necessarily lying.
When children are caught telling a lie, they hold both hands to their mouth, trying to cover it. When adults knows they are telling a lie, used a more subtle way to cover the mouth, with just one finger, or touching the nose or forehead. They may also appear to be rubbing a place like they have itching, scratching but the way is too weak and without a specific location.
A reaction of the liar is to avoid eye contact with the person who is deceiving, rubbing an eye vigorously, looking at the floor if telling a huge lie, when it comes to a man, while women gently massage the skin under the eye, and look at the ceiling.
There are some variations when it comes to rubbing the ear: pulling the ear lobe, caressing the back of the ear and rotating a fingertip stuck in the ear, which may represent the same as when a child is covered both ears to avoid being reprimanded for telling a lie.
Rubbing or scratching behind the neck, or pulling the collar are actions taken by people who are not telling the truth or they're hiding something. Neck rub, can be also when a person disagrees with the other, even when he or she are saying they agree.
Scientist Allan Pease, explains how adult’s gestures are actually evolutions of automatic movements of children. Expressions of emotion, exaggerated movements of hands and eyes wide are unmistakable childlike features nonstop coming to adulthood, although more and more subtle to attract less attention.
According to Paul Ekman, lying is a process divided into three distinct phases. The first could be considered evasion, the second question and the third active lie.
Evasion phase is characterized by omissions, with attitudes like "Better not say this or that, reveal could hurt me." Technically the person is not lying, but neither is telling the whole truth. In this case, it will try to avoid each other's gaze for minimize the importance of the conversation so they can move to another point.
The next phase, of course, happens when someone asks a direct question to which the person is not prepared. In this case, evade could start too many suspicions, but it would be extremely difficult for the liar, keep their eyes with the other person while is thinking of a convincing response.
In this case, the head may be aimed directly seeing the interlocutor, but the eyes are usually jumping from here to there, probably with stammering.
Finally, the active lie is when expressly falsehood ends up coming out of the liar’s mouth. Dissimulation is over, the lie is told, but it will be impossible to know the reaction of the other person if do not look directly into the interlocutor’s eyes.
Other common ways to detect if a person evades the truth are:
When you ask a direct question to a person and his or her answer, by repeating the same question or part of this.
Question: At what time did you come last night from the party?
Answer: At what time came from the party?
When a question comes by surprise, liars are not prepared to give an answer, they need time so the brain can invent the best and least compromising response.
Other times, the answer instead of being simple, is partially repeated and is included at the end, such as:
Question: Did you pick up the suits from the dry cleaning?
Answer: Sorry? Oh, I picked up suits.
This is to sound convincing, even if the answer should be short and simple as when we ask our name.
Each liar has greater or lesser degree of ability to hide the evidence that body language unconsciously transmits while lying, as well as the ability to evade or avoid answers, very well executed by many politicians and public figures.