Far From Truth: Most People Think They Are Very Good At Lie Detecting

Most people think they are very good lie detectors but that is wishful thinking and so far from reality.
Far From Truth: Most People Think They Are Very Good At Lie Detecting

Humans as lie detectors


Most people think they are good lie dectectors. That is wishful thinking and so far from reality. Learn, why this is risky for your decision making.

Wishful thinking


Most people think they are very good lie detectors but that is wishful thinking and so far from reality.

It is true that some people are really born human lie detector without specific training. But those are rare exceptions. Naturally, we are far better at telling lies than detecting them. Without specific training, most people, including those from professions where detecting lies is crucial, achieve a mediocre lie-detection rate.

With specific knowledge and a lot of practice, people may achieve a fairly good lie-detection rate. The more you train, the more accurate your lie-detection skills will become. Especially observing micro expressions takes a lot of time to get better at it. However, you don’t want it on constantly. You have to know when to turn it on. This will make you more focused when you use these skills.

When we know a person well, we believe we will, therefore, be able to see the telltale signs. Truth is that makes lie detection more difficult because the natural default position for humans is to believe the people they are emotionally close to.

Yes, most people believe that they can tell if their partner, child, or close friend lies to them. But this is usually not the case, due to two primary factors: overconfidence and closeness. These two factors lead to a loss of objectivity, which prevents a person in a close relationship from seeing otherwise obvious signs of deceit.

What is said sometimes cannot be totally discounted in lie detection. How things are said and how a person behaves while communicating are far more important. The nonverbal cues of our body language tell more than most of us realize. Relying solely on what is said is inherently unreliable. Accurate lie detectors rely on a combination of what they’re told and what they observe.

To be honest to yourself about the abilities to detect lies may help you with some decisions. Especially when your gut feeling gives you a signal to stay alerted. Don’t overrule it!



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How good are you at lie detecting?

1 Comment

  1. You are right!


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This article is a short excerpt of the more comprehensive course materials my clients receive in group or individual training or coaching.

First published: March 21, 2001
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: April 3, 2018
Translation: April 3, 2009
German version: