How do you tell if someone is lying? Stats tell us our chances are little more than chance but a while back, Richard Wiseman (he of all that is quirky in psychology) conducted a mass participation experiment on the BBC on this very subject.
The legendary Sir Robin Day was asked to talk about his favourite film. In the first interview, he described his (genuine) love for ‘Some Like it Hot’. In a second he talked about his (quite false) admiration for ‘Gone With the Wind’. Viewers were then invited to vote on which one they thought was the truth. 30,000 votes were received, evenly split between the two interviews, and no better than if they can guessed.
Then an intriguing thing happened. The interviews were broadcast over the radio, transcripts were written up in The Daily Telegraph and the listeners and readers also voted. 73% of the radio listeners successfully identified when Sir Robin was lying, as did 64% of the newspaper readers.
Why? Because body language and facial expressions are much less of an indicator of lying than we think. The words we choose to use however, are a far more reliable sign of our authenticity.
Worth thinking about.
More quirkology here