Sunday, October 12, 2008

About those 8 Ways to Spot a Dishonest Date

I'm not gonna lie.

The Seinfeld jokes really are the funniest, aren't they? I mean, we talk about Jack Benny, Lenny Bruce, Henny Youngman, Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Cosby, Carol Burnett, Gilda Radner, but the funniest man or woman, dead or alive (okay, maybe Tina Fey is the funniest) might very well be the one whose cadence is in our lexicon, whose very words, I'm not gonna' lie, are a part of our daily speech.

But this isn't about comedians, it's about deception, and we've talked about that before. But it's in the journalistic web news, so why not take another look? According to Caroline Presno at Yahoo, new research offers practical tips for spotting liars.


(you'll see, liars use this word a lot, "frankly", and phrases like "to be quite honest")

but frankly, I'm more interested in the sociopathy, the why than the what, and how to see this as a systemic problem. We'll talk about the systemic features of lying following Yahoo's presentation of the what.

Critical thinking questions, the ones you should rhetorically ask the wall when you read stuff like this, are indented in parentheses. I didn't read the research, and for all I know the methodology is great. But you want to look at what you read critically, especially breaking news presented as the truth. Even stuff you read over here deserves a critical eye. Skim through it and get to the story.

Dating 101: Eight Ways to Spot a Dishonest Date

By Dating expert Caroline Presno, Ed.D., P.C.C. Special to Yahoo! Personals Updated: Oct 2, 2008

Chances are you're being lied to multiple times a day. It happens not only at work and with your friends and family, but in the intimate arena of love and dating, whether it's a first date or someone you are forming an exciting new relationship with.

Imagine this:

During a 10-minute conversation, people told an average of two to three lies, and 60 percent of people lied at least once, according to a study conducted by Robert Feldman of the University of Massachusetts.
(Who were these people? How many in the sample? Why would we think they represent the people you know and talk to every day?)
Telling lies is a normal part of everyday life. People tell small lies to make themselves more likable or to spare other people's feelings.
(Who says it's a normal part of everyday life? Whose life?)
However, it's when the lying gets out of hand that it becomes harmful to a budding relationship. If someone you are dating repeatedly lies to you for their own personal gain, you need to be aware of it. By becoming a better lie detector, you can prevent others from taking advantage of you, both literally and emotionally.

Here are eight ways to spot a liar:
1. Eyes aflutter. When people lie, their blink rate tends to go up.

2. The eyes have it. Conventional wisdom says that liars don't look you directly in the eye. And sometimes this is the case. However, research shows that practiced liars will actually give you more eye contact than people telling the truth!

3. Frankly, my dear. People who lie often feel the need to draw your attention to their trustworthiness. They may preface statements with words like "honestly," "frankly," and "truthfully." They're also likely to make assertions such as "I would never lie to you" and "I'm not lying."

4. Cool and casual. Most people expect liars to be nervous, but practiced liars know how to act casual while weaving a web. They may have their feet up or be slumped down in a chair as the lies flow.

5. Behind the smile. A liar's smile is different from a truth-teller's smile. According to research, true "enjoyment smiles" are so big and bright that you'll notice a crinkle around the eyes. These authentic smiles last for less than five seconds. The "masking smile," or lie smile, tends to last longer than five seconds, doesn't involve the eyes, has a hint of negative emotion, and may be crooked.

6. Sticking to it.“Good liars stick to the true parts of their story as much as possible and insert lies at key points.”
Good liars stick to the true parts of their story as much as possible and insert lies at key points. If you suspect you're being lied to, don't be fooled into thinking that the whole story is true, even if you can confirm that parts of it are true.

7. Derailed by details. Liars often try to divert you from their falsehoods by detailing you to death. They'll get you so bogged down by the minutiae of the story that you lose track of what they're saying or you get tired of listening. Never hesitate to ask for clarification if the story seems confusing or doesn't add up.

8. It's not me, it's you! If you catch someone in a lie, they'll frequently try to turn it back on you. "You must be crazy. I never said that!" or "You must have memory loss because that's not the way it happened."

What do you do when you suspect someone you're dating is repeatedly lying to you? In order to feel more secure in the relationship, let them know that even though the truth can hurt, you want to deal with things honestly and openly. The truth will ultimately be better than losing trust and being devastated by lies.

The more people lie and get away with it, the more lies they tell. Stop the cycle by confronting the lies!

Not bad. Certainly good advice. But is a liar going to 'fess up with confrontation? The types of lies you need to be on the lookout for are really the ones that will personally affect you, do you damage. And to protect yourself from those you don't need to confront anyone. You have to know you, then cut bait when you know that the you could get hurt.

The story

I went to college with FD but didn't know him. I thought he was cute from across a crowded room. He didn't know I was alive, and there was no way I was going to do anything about that. One day we met in line somewhere and he flirted and took my phone number, and within a very short time we were both pretty sure we should get married. Fast, if possible.

Fast didn't happen, of course. You have to get the hall, and the band, and the photographer. Petty details.

Not that I'm recommending this, by the way, jumping into a committed relationship without premarital therapy. In retrospect it's obvious we were very lucky that we hadn't completely bamboozled, blinded one another to our respective tragic flaws.

So I went home for a weekend and for some reason told my parents about this. I thought they would be happy about it. Isn't that what you send your kid off to college to do? Find a spouse? That old M.R.S. degree?

Instead I got these funny looks.

My father, when he couldn't take it anymore, stood in the doorway of my bedroom. I was reading a book, remember this like it was yesterday. He never did this, stood in the doorway to talk, and never crossed into my bedroom, because hey, it's a girl's room. You don't do that.

So from the doorway he says, "Can we talk?"

Sure Dad, what's on your mind?

"He says he'll marry you."

That's all he says. I smile and say, "Don't worry, Dad. He will. It's not even a question."

This isn't enough, he's not sure I get it. And he doesn't see a ring. He continues. "Do you know what I mean when I say he says he'll marry you?"

I smile and I say, "Dad. He isn't the kind of person who swears his adoration and then says, If you loved me, you would . . .What choice do you think he has?"

What my father had referred to was the deception variable, and I think it fantastic that he proffered that little bit of advice at that particular time.

So I'm passing it on to you, too, without bullet points.

Deception is only as good as the power, the potential to wreak havoc, behind it. That you can assess without even knowing the other person well or if he or she is lying to you. For that data you have to look inside yourself to find the answer.

You do it by thinking defensively. "What if this person is lying to me? Then what?"

And if you get "Oh, that would be really bad," for an answer, then you need to do a lot of detective work before falling too hard.

You were thinking about going into forensics, anyway, right?*


*High school students, influenced by Law and Order and CSI, say that they are now choosing forensics over other professions. I have no idea about the quality of the methodology of that survey, by the way :)

For more on deception and development, read my post at The Second Road, Caught in a . . .Lie?


TLCastle said...

Well I can tell you that they probably say that (the high school students) when surveyed, but then they get to college and talk to us. We tell them that it's really all hard sciences (biology, chemistry, etc.) and not "looking for clues." Then we get, "Really?"

Dreaming again said...

I hate these published stories with a passion. I have myasthenia gravis and 'to be frank' ..when I'm tired, my facial muscles don't work right, my smile may not smile big enough (probably won't ...isn't too day, school is kicking my butt, half my psychology grade is due in in 2 different papers on WED.) to crinkle the eyes in a genuine smile. My eye contact may be effected by how badly my vision is skewed with double, or desperately trying to not go double ...drooping eyelids ...and my desperation to keep you from noticing my dropping eyelids ... may cause me to tilt my head in odd directions to give a boost to facial muscles.

None of the body language stuff works if you've got a myasthenic, an MS patient or many other neuromusclular disease standing in front of you ...depending on severity you may not know the person is even sick (invisible illnesses are big!!!)

Those of us in this category fight hard to come up with subtle coping skills so that the person talking to us doesn't go

The foreinsics quote at the bottom is funny. I've got a 19 year old headed to be a forensic medical examiner (plan) it has NOTHING to do with CSI, NCIS or any of the ilk ... he really hates those shows and wishes people would 'get a grip'.

Anonymous said...

The article (the one from Yahoo) makes me think of talking to used car salesmen more than dates. :)

When I was young (think elementary and middle school), I used to lie all the time. I'd lie over incidental matters, that no one cared about, as well as bigger things (the most memorable being that I owned 500 horses), and typical childhood lies designed to keep me out of trouble with my parents and teachers. My mother, who was onto me, used to say, "You lie when the truth would serve you better." And she was right.

After years of anxiety, trying to keep my stories straight and trying to save lost friendships, I finally decided I was going to break the lying habit. And I did.

Now I'm not a perfect person; I lie on occasion, mostly social lies of little consequence (Yes, I love that dress!), rarely anything bigger. So when the article says most people lie 2 to 3 times in the course of a 10-minute conversation, I have a hard time believing it!

Do you think there's any truth to the claim that "most" people lie as often as the author suggests? If so, WHY and what on earth are they lying about?

therapydoc said...

I don't like "most" anything. But if I had to guess, would certainly say that most people DON'T lie. But what do I know?

Anonymous said...

I am one of the few parents that can truly say my son has never EVER lied.


... but he's only one and can only say "duck" "dog" and "uh-oh" anyway. :)

therapydoc said...

So cute.

Mark said...

This was a good lesson on getting to the truth by stopping and asking questions about that which is said to be truth. Very well done!

SeaSpray said...

I never used "frankly before a sentence until I read it somewhere in blogging and I use it when I am stating a case about something disagreeable to me. i think that is when.

I have heard that when a person says "honestly" that could be linked to lying. but I have used that to... but for emphasis. perhaps doing so is redundant because people should just take you at your word.

I have told lies to spare feelings. I just can not hurt someone. but I have also been truthful when important to the person. So many variables.

I am an eye contact person. I joke that I am not a good liar because I do that dog thing. You know... where you stare at a dog and they continually avert their eyes. :)

I have read that people tend to look down when they are lying because of the guilt. It might only be a split second. Or if they are fabricating they look off to one direction vs recalling it is the opposite direction. Body language is interesting.

My younger son has a friend who has lied compulsively since a little boy. i can ALWAYS tell because when he is lying... the tone of his voice changes. It tends to sound monotone. The thing is...he has a lot going for him and I don't get why he has always felt the need to do that. Self esteem? I say that because it usually involves a story where he is important.

Sadly... while I love him like a son... I always have a check in my spirit regarding truth.

It is astounding how difficult it is to reinstate trust once violated.

therapydoc said...

Rightly so, Seaspray. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice?

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