Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Top 10 secrets of effective liars

Good advice from a Psychology Today blogger:
As I've written earlier, human beings have an innate skill at dishonesty. And with good reason: being able to manipulate the expectations of those around us is a key survival trait for social animals like ourselves. Indeed, a 1999 study by psychologist Robert Feldman at the University of Massachusetts showed that the most popular kids were also the most effective liars. Just because our aptitude is hardwired doesn't mean it can't improve with practice and skill. Here are ten techniques that top-notch liars use to maximize their effectiveness. (By the way, this information is offered as a way to help detect deceit in others, not to practice it yourself. Honestly!)

#1 Have a reason. "Prisons are filled with bad liars," says psychologist Charles Ford, author of the book Lies! Lies! Lies!. "The good liars are out running HMOs." So what's the big difference? Basically, says Ford, the trick is to lie as little as possible - only when you actually have something to gain. "Pathological liars can't stop themselves from lying, so they tell a lot of little lies and wind up getting caught," he says. Truly expert fabricators, on the other hand, save their ammunition - they don't bother to lie unless it's going to get them something they really want.

#2 Lay your groundwork. Don't wait until you're under the interrogation lamp to start putting your story together. A 1990 study by psychologist Bill Flanagan showed that liars who had worked out the details of their stories beforehand had significantly more success than those who hadn't. As in everything, practice makes perfect. "It's easier to catch someone in lie the first time they tell it," says psychologist Dr. Cynthia Cohen

#3 Tell the truth, misleadingly. The hardest lies to catch are those which aren't actually lies. You're telling the truth, but in a way that leaves a false impression. Technically, it's only a prevarication - about half a sin. A 1990 study of pathological liars in New York City found that those who could avoid follow-up questions were significantly more successful at their deceptions.

#4 Know your target. Good liars have the same gift as good communicators: the ability to get inside the listener's head. Empathy not only clues you in to what your subject wants to hear, it will help you avoid stepping onto trip wires that will trigger their suspicions. "To make a credible lie, you need to take into account the perspective of your target," says Carolyn Saarni, co-editor of the book Lying and Deception in Everyday Life. "Know what they know. Be aware of their interests and activities so you can cover your tracks."

#5 Keep your facts straight. "One of the problems of successful lying is that it's hard work," says psychologist Michael Lewis. "You have to be very consistent in doing it." That means nailing down the details. Write down notes if you have to. "One of the things that trips people up is that they give different information to different people, who then start talking about it and comparing notes," says Dr. Gini Graham Scott, author of The Truth About Lying.

#6 Stay focused. "When I'm trying to catch a liar, I watch to see how committed they are to what they're telling me," says Sgt. John Yarbrough, interrogation expert with the LA Sheriff Department's homicide bureau. "If I accuse someone of lying, and they're not very committed to the statement they just made, a red flag goes up." One of the reasons most people make bad liars is that they find lying a deeply unpleasant activity. Fear and guilt are evident in their facial expressions. They want to get the process over as quickly as possible, so they show relief when their interrogator changes the topic. That's a dead giveaway. Really good liars, on the other hand, actually enjoy the process of deceiving other people. "The best liars don't show any shame or remorse because they don't feel it," says Cohen. "They get a thrill out of actively misleading others. They're good at it, and they enjoy the challenge."

#7: Watch your signals. It's folk wisdom that people fidget, touch their noses, stutter, and break eye contact when they lie - the proverbial "shifty-eyed" look. But research has shown that just isn't so. In his 1999 study of high school students, Feldman found that nonverbal signals were crucial in determining who got away with telling lies. "The successful kinds were better at controlling their nonverbal signals, things like the the amount of eye contact and how much they gestured," he says.

#8: Turn up the pressure. If your target has clearly become suspicious, it's time to raise the emotional stakes. "The best liars are natural manipulators," says Sgt. Yarbrough. He cites as a perfect example the scene in Basic Instinct where Sharon Stone is brought to the cop station for questioning and winds up flashing everyone a glimpse of her Lesser Antilles. "She was turning them on," Yarbrough explains, "and that's a form of manipulation - using sexual or emotional arousal to distract the interviewer."

#9: Counterattack. The fact is, just as most of us are uncomfortable telling lies, most are uncomfortable accusing others. This discomfort can be used in the liar's favor. "You'll often see politicians respond to accusations with aggression," says Stan Walters, author of The Truth About Lying: Everyday Techniques for Dealing with Deception. "What they'll do is drive critics away from the issue, so they're forced to gather up their resources to fight another scrimmage."

#10: Bargain. Even when the jig is up, liars can often escape the worst by using a process psychologists call bargaining. "You want to soften, alleviate, or totally eliminate feelings of responsibility for the lie," explains researcher Mary DePalma. "If you can decrease responsibility for blame and the anger that goes with it, you're really looking at a much better outcome."

29 comments:

  1. tnx for the tips! lol

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  2. i’ve known a number of bad liars who could have benefited from secret #1. when I asked them why they lied, after catching them in the act, their responses were “it didn’t hurt anyone and made them look good”, “the truth was boring and they felt entitled to make it more interesting”, and “they just couldn’t help themselves”. they seemed unaware that people actually were on to them. or was it denial? do bad liars also lie to themselves?

    liar, liar!

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  3. number 3-"You told me you loved me."..I never told you I was IN love with you."
    I really don't know what the difference is and I didn't know that I needed to ask for what type of love he was in with me.

    number 8- "I need to take time from this relationship because I don't want to feel this way and my feelings are mine to take care of."..."There is no reason to feel insecure because I'm in this for the long haul how can I prove that to you."
    That worked for a few days indeed but he never proved anything to me except that he was not to be trusted. A week later..gone.

    Grace.

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    Replies
    1. Saying you love someone is really, really broad. I love tea, I love guitar, I love my computer. He loved you. I'm not IN love with tea, or guitar, guitar. That's basically you're difference, especially if you're dealing with a real sociopath.

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  4. There is a massive difference between loving someone and being in love with someone.

    You heard "I love you" and due to your ignorance, willful blindness, neediness/clinginess, social conditioning, or some combination of the above, you heard "I'm in love with you" instead of "I love you".

    Love at its core is wanting someone to be happy. You love your close friends, your family, people who mean a lot to you ect. Chances are you'd be willing to take a bullet for them. Maybe not to the face, but you get the idea. The phrase "I love you" has no romantic sentiment.

    "I'm in love with you" has implications of commitment, monogamy, white fences, two kids, a slow death in a Florida retirement community and all that fun stuff Hallmark shoves down your throat every February.

    I love my friends and my family. I am in love with none of them.

    You were in love with the idea of being in love. Ideas aren't capable of either. And that's what your relationship was, an shade of an idea created by your mind's desire for it and his interest in showing you what you wanted to see. You stopped being interesting to him so he stopped trying to maintain your delusion of being in love.

    to recap:
    (when spoken honestly and used correctly)
    "I love you" --> Unconditional
    "I'm in love with you" --> Conditional

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  5. Contextually, he was probably lying to her either way. I was merely explaining the difference, which Grace seems to think is irrelevant, but the difference is important when the person who says it isn't lying.

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  6. Ok. Thank you for clearing that up for me. The point is that he lied about loving me...he never loved me at all. Then lied some more when he was worried by my backing off. I'm just relating it to the post.

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  7. I didn't see your second post Cake before I added mine. Yes he was lying period. Grace

    I keep thinking of his age too..hes middle aged and that makes it more bizarre..i mean teens do that shit..but whatever.

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  8. If you take what I said earlier (wanting someone to be happy = love) at face value, it could be argued he loved you. But that wouldn't make sense given the way he treated you.

    You have to factor in his motivation as well. If he wanted you to be happy just so he wouldn't have to deal with you being upset, he didn't love you, he was just being selfish.



    I like how anonymity means I don't get the *how'd a caustic fucker like you think that up* look I usually get when I explain that to people.

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  9. Does anyone else think these lovefraud-esque type stories resemble emotional ponzi schemes?

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  10. Top 10 secrets of thriving creatures

    #1 - Make sure you breathe. Many people are ignorant of this fact, but the most dominant creatures on Earth all have one thing in common. They breathe. If you don't breathe, you won't be able to live, which means you definitely can't thrive.

    #2 - Don't jump off of cliffs. Don't give in to your instinct to dominate gravity by jumping headlong into a dark chasm. Creatures who thrive all know that sometimes, 1000ft is just too much. Our bodies aren't as resilient as we sometimes like to think they are, and testing that theory in a 120 MPH free fall is an easy way to lose your place as king of the jungle.

    #3 - Don't light your hair on fire. Though it may seem counter intuitive, a head of blazing orange fury usually doesn't lead to the top of the pile. Sometimes, it can actually land you 6ft under the paws of even the most pathetic creatures on Earth. Don't let your lust for power fool you. Fire can be just as dangerous as it is awesome.

    #4 -- ... ... fill in the blanks.

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  11. Dude..Or chick CAKE..

    I love your ideas.
    Im not in love with them, but I love them.

    Good food for thought.

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  12. Lol @Peter Pan, that was hilarious.

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  13. I am great at lying.

    The thing about lying is this:

    Do not lie entirely.

    Lying is a bit like your perception of the day. Everyday, everyone experiences good things and bad things. Some people focus on the good things and perceive their day as good, others focus on the negative and perceive their day as bad.

    Now, if you lie entirely, you have nothing to focus on. You have no shred of truth to sincerely mean. Absolutely nothing is true and you know it.

    When you lie, you want to believe your lie. Thus, I don't lie entirely. I throw in shreds of truth that I actually mean to the person, all the well knowing that they're going to perceive it in the way I want them to.

    This is why I am good at lying; my act is believable.

    I am sure I am not the only one with this idea. So I ask, what is your lying technique?

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    Replies
    1. Lies always taste better when you season them with a bit of truth ;)

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  14. Nothing is more deceptive than the truth.

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  15. Anonymous said...
    Lol @Peter Pan, that was hilarious.


    peter is hilarious and i love him. :)

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  16. I am sure I am not the only one with this idea. So I ask, what is your lying technique?

    it depends on the reason for the lie. usually there is no need. redirection and diversion tactics work as well on adults as they do on little kids. honest flattery and plays to ego are effective in the workplace.

    i will outright lie only when i'm cornered and the truth is not a realistic option, but it always feels like cheating. i suppose it's a refuge for those who fail in the art of manipulation.

    Anonymous said...
    Nothing is more deceptive than the truth.


    agreed.

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  17. Oh Zoe, what is love but a construct to facilitate the mating process? Let's quit beating around your bush, take off the proverbial gloves, keep the latex gloves out of the picture entirely, and satisfy ourselves with a night of glorious fantasy. You can be the banker, and I'll be the rich businessman. I have a very large deposit I need to make. How do you feel about ATM transactions?

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  18. Darn, I missed a good one! I was stuck on the empathy post. There's some good reading there if anyone wants to join that thread. Would love to get your input on some of the discussion going on.
    Zan

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  19. Zoe:"it depends on the reason for the lie. usually there is no need. redirection and diversion tactics work as well on adults as they do on little kids. honest flattery and plays to ego are effective in the workplace."

    My lying only comes into play when I'm having to pretend I feel emotion x, y, z... etc. Most of the time, I'm having discussions with family members and I just hold my tongue on some of the questions such as: "How do you feel about [insert person/thing]?" Either 2 things occur when this comes up: 1) the person answers for me and shades it to their liking or 2) I lie about it and say what they want to hear.

    Zoe:"i will outright lie only when i'm cornered and the truth is not a realistic option, but it always feels like cheating. i suppose it's a refuge for those who fail in the art of manipulation. "

    I've been in that sort of situation. I usually end crafting a truth that doesn't correlate with my true self; but it does correlate well with my facade.

    Peter: "Oh Zoe, what is love but a construct to facilitate the mating process? Let's quit beating around your bush, take off the proverbial gloves, keep the latex gloves out of the picture entirely, and satisfy ourselves with a night of glorious fantasy. You can be the banker, and I'll be the rich businessman. I have a very large deposit I need to make. How do you feel about ATM transactions?"

    Next thing we know, this place will be a sociopath dating service.

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  20. When you lie, you want to believe your lie. Thus, I don't lie entirely. I throw in shreds of truth that I actually mean to the person, all the well knowing that they're going to perceive it in the way I want them to.

    This is why I am good at lying; my act is believable.


    Ya, it helps to believe the lie so i like to throw in a little truth here and there that match the situation or my personality. Everybody pretty much thinks i'm harmless and so its pretty easy to shift the blame onto anyone who might challenge my motives. Their usually more aggresive than i am so naturally everybody will think their the crazy or overreactive one. i just sit back and watch them get more frustrated with me every day.

    ReplyDelete

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