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Deception Detection

Psychologists try to learn how to spot a liar

By
10:39am, July 27, 2004

"Is he lying?" Odds are, you'll never know. Although people have been communicating with one another for tens of thousands of years, more than 3 decades of psychological research have found that most individuals are abysmally poor lie detectors. In the only worldwide study of its kind, scientists asked more than 2,000 people from nearly 60 countries, "How can you tell when people are lying?" From Botswana to Belgium, the number-one answer was the same: Liars avert their gaze.

"This is . . . the most prevalent stereotype about deception in the world," says Charles Bond of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, who led the research project. And yet gaze aversion, like other commonly held stereotypes about liars, isn't correlated with lying at all, studies have shown. Liars don't shift around or touch their noses or clear their throats any more than truth te

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