U.K. Study to Look at Lying Behavior

PORTSMOUTH, England, Sept. 29 (UPI) — The common belief that people avert their gaze, blink nervously or fidget when telling lies is not true, a U.K. researcher says.

Sharon Leal, from the University of Portsmouth, is embarking on a two-year study that will use laboratory-controlled experiments to identify signs of dishonesty, The Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday.


The study is being funded by a fraud investigation company to help uncover suspect insurance claims, the newspaper said.

Leal, who has written several books on deception, said physical clues are not always reliable.

“Contrary to popular belief, motivated liars do not fidget, avert their gaze or blink nervously,” Leal said.

“They are usually calm and have planned their lies down to the last detail.

“There is a real need to use evidence-based methods that are scientifically proven to work to stop wasting insurance companies’ time and money and to stop innocent people being treated as suspects while the guilty get away,” Leal said.

“Even the majority of experts overestimate their ability to spot a lie,” she said.

When someone intends to lie, they think about their story beforehand and therefore load a large amount of information onto their brain, she said.

She hopes to examine the way this information overload affects behavior.

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