In the TED Talk “How to Spot a Liar”, Pamela Meyer discusses why people lie, how often they do, and how to spot it. Lie spotters are not those who, as she puts it, play a game of Gotcha, but instead those who use scientific knowledge to spot deception and have difficult conversations, and those who accept that lying is a cooperative act. She explains that many lies are simply white lies, but some can cause heavy damages, such as corporate fraud, which cost 997 billion dollars in just the United States in 2011. She explains that the reason people are deceived so often is that they are hungry for something, which deception can provide to them. It can be used to fill the gaps in people’s lives.
Lying is extremely prevalent in society, and studies show that one person is lied to anywhere from 10 to 200 times a day. Lying is as complex and old as time, and it is deeply woven into our society. She states that while people dislike lying, they are also covertly for it as it is embedded into our culture and history. Another reason people lie is that is has evolutionary value, as researchers have shown that the more intelligent the species, the more likely it is to lie. Lying is hardwired into people’s brains, starting when they are just babies. Nonetheless, there are steps that can be taken to navigate all the lying taking place everywhere.
All liars use the same techniques and make the same mistakes, so there are patterns of deception that can be found. Some verbal indicators include non-contracted denials, distancing language, qualifying language, and lowering their vocal tone. Liars can also be spotted using body language. Some examples of common body language of liars include frozen upper bodies, smiling a fake smile, shrugging, shaking their head, pointing their feet towards an exit, and putting a barrier object between the interviewer and themselves. However, she states that liars look people in the eyes too much to compensate for the myth that they don’t, but later states that a deceptive person may look down when she is talking about how a typical deceptive might act. She also says that one of the most important but overlooked parts of spotting deception is attitude. Honest people are more likely to show they are on the side the person interviewing them, to be enthusiastic, to be helpful, and to recommend strict punishment.
Deceptive people are more likely to be withdrawn and to add too much detail to their story. Deceptive people also often leak emotions, such as showing duping delight, sadness and contempt. However, these behaviors can just be random gestures people make; they generally only signal deception when there are many of them together. There is technology, such as eye trackers and brain scans, that can read the signals people’s bodies send out when they are trying to be deceptive; however, since they are not widespread, learning how to spot lies is still useful. All the oversharing and transparency presented to people by technology doesn’t lead to true honesty, but instead blinds people to subtleties of human character.
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