Lyin’ Eyes

Unlike the Eagles song,
“Lyin’ Eyes” it may be possible to hide those lyin’ eyes. According
to a three part study by U.K. and Canadian researchers, it is a myth that your
eyes dart up and to the right when you lie.

According to the myth,
if someone is telling the truth, the eyes dart up and to the left, but there is
no support to this urban legend.
“A large percentage of
the public believes that certain eye movements are a sign of lying, and this
idea is even taught in organizational training courses. Our research provides
no support for the idea and so suggests that it is time to abandon this
approach to detecting deceit.” So says Caroline Watt, PhD, a psychologist
at the University of Edinburgh.
Watt and her colleagues
did studies. First, 32 people were individually told to hide a cell phone
in a certain place and return to the briefing room. Half were told to lie and
half were told to tell the truth about what they did. They were then videotaped
during a brief interview, then they did a second interview in which the liars
told the truth and the people telling the truth lied.
The videos were reviewed
both in real time an in slow motion by raters who did not know whether the
subjects were supposed to tell the truth or not.
The results showed no
significant difference between liars and people telling the truth.
They did another study,
this time the researchers assembled a collection of real-time videos in which
people filmed appeals to find missing relatives. For half of the videos
there was clear evidence the person had lied. Using the same methods as in the first
study, eye movements were closely analyzed, and again, the results showed no
difference between liars and truth-tellers.
“This is in line
with findings from a considerable amount of previous work showing that facial
clues (including eye movements) are poor indicators of deception,” Watt
noted. “The results provide considerable grounds to be skeptical of the
notion that the proposed pattern of eye movements provide reliable indicator of
The Watt study appears
in the online journal PLoS ONE.
Sources: Wiseman, R.
PLoS ONE, published online July 11th 2012.


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