Friday 19 January 2018

You can't believe your eyes when trying to spot a liar

John von Radowitz

Lying eyes are a myth, despite the common belief that no fibber can hide behind them, research has shown.

Many psychologists believe that when a person looks up to their right they are likely to be telling a lie.

But experts are wrong, according to Professor Richard Wiseman and his research team in the UK.

The claimed link between lying and eye movements is a key element of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), a method of enhancing people's lives using psychological techniques.

According to the theory, when right-handed people look up to their right they are likely to be visualising a "constructed" or imagined event.

The idea was tested by filming volunteers and recording their eye movements as they told the truth or lied.

A second group were then asked to watch the films and try to detect the lies by watching eye movements.

Psychologist Prof Wiseman, from the University of Hertfordshire, said: "The results of the first study revealed no relationship between lying and eye movements, and the second showed that telling people about the claims made by NLP practitioners did not improve their lie-detection skills."

Crime

A follow-up study involved analysing videos of high-profile press conferences in which people appealed for help in finding missing relatives, or claimed to have been victims of crime. While some were telling the truth, others turned out to be lying.

Again, there was no correlation between eye movements and lying.

Co-author Dr Caroline Watt, from the University of Edinburgh, said: "Our research provides no support for this idea and so suggests that it is time to abandon this approach to detecting deceit."

The research appears in the online journal 'Public Library of Science ONE'.

Irish Independent

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