How To Lie Effectively?

To most people this question is off-putting.

But, a lot of research has looked at this topic and if you have enough time and know where to look, this type of information is readily available.

So, in an attempt to provide a balanced point of view we have summarized the findings for you. And if you want to know how to beat a polygraph,, provides a lot of useful information in that respect.

But, if you want to learn to lie more effectively, the following information may be helpful.

woman lyingTo begin with, it may help to know that lying is usually easier than people think. When lovers keep close track of all of the times they actually lie, many people discover that lying to a spouse or loved one is a rather easy to do. Most of the time, people do not get caught—most lies go undetected.

With that said, there are, however, several things you can do to improve your odds of success.

Ironically, most people think they can tell when a lover is lying by simply watching a partner’s nonverbal behavior. Again, nothing could be further from the truth (see tell when someone is lying).

Rather than relying on more accurate methods to detect deception, people pay close attention to their partner’s verbal responses and body language, which contrary to popular belief does not work (see nonverbal cues).

But, even though romantic partners tend to use the wrong method when trying to detect deception, it helps to know what triggers a partner’s suspicion when lying.

Quite a bit of research has looked at how spouses determine if they are being told the truth. Accordingly, we know a lot about this process and we understand what people think "a typical lie" looks like (the information provided below is adapted from Fiedler and Walka, and Cole, Leets and Bradac’s work on deception).

So, if you are going to mislead your lover, probably best to avoid doing things which look suspicious.

How to Avoid Suspicion:

Keep it Short and To the Point

First, people evaluate a partner’s truthfulness by looking at the amount of detail or information given when responding to questions.

People get suspicious when answers contain more details or information than was required. Essentially, providing too many details makes people wonder if the truth is being told.

This effect is called the "falsifiability heuristic."

For instance, if you are late coming home from work and you decide to lie about getting stuck in traffic, providing too many details about the traffic jam makes it seem like you are lying (i.e., "You should have seen the traffic, tons of cars backed up, I was standing still for at least 20 minutes, and then when we did start moving, we moved at a crawl for the next five miles...").

Essentially, your spouse may wonder why you are providing such a detailed explanation unless you have something to hide.

Simply stated, when lying—do not provide more details than necessary to answer the question at hand—("Sorry, traffic was bad tonight.").

Keep it Plausible

Second, partners evaluate the truthfulness of a response by asking themselves "how likely was that to have happened?" When you answer a question or give an excuse that seems far-fetched, even if it is the truth, people will assume you are lying.

This phenomenon is called the "infrequency heuristic."

People evaluate your responses by whether they seem likely or plausible.

For example, if you come home late and tell your husband or wife that traffic was bad because "some ducklings were stuck in the middle of the freeway," even though this might have happened, this answer is likely to raise suspicion because such events are rare; people will begin to question your truthfulness.

Again, when trying to lie, avoid making up excuses that seem far-fetched. It is better to stick to stories or excuses that seem common and plausible–("Traffic was bad, a minor fender-bender tied things up.").

Keep Calm

Third, people pay close attention to a partner’s level of nervousness.

Noticeable signs of anxiety or stress tend to make partners question what is being said. And most partners will ask probing questions when they spot anxiety or tension ("What?" Really?").

When partners start asking such questions, this is actually a good thing. In most cases, this indicates that you are out of trouble. Once people start asking probing questions, in the end, they tend to assume that the truth is being told (see common mistakes).

If you find yourself in such a situation, act calm, and have a plausible, not overly detailed answer ready for why you are so nervous or anxious—("Work is driving me crazy, sorry.").

Be Mindful of a Partner’s Need for Intimacy

Finally, when trying to lie, it helps to take into account a partner’s style of attachment (see need for intimacy).

If your partner is comfortable with intimacy and closeness, it helps to trigger "intimacy cues" when lying.

What does this mean? Using small indicators of intimacy (e.g., standing closer, initiating touch, using nicknames, etc.) often leads partners to think that they are being told the truth.

Essentially, you are exploiting the "truth-bias." It is just too hard for people, who like intimacy and closeness, to assume that romantic partners would betray their trust (see catching lovers lying).

For example, if dating someone with a "secure" or "anxious" style of attachment, it helps to say something like, "Sweetheart, traffic was bad tonight."

On the other hand, when dating someone who is fearful or uncomfortable with intimacy (i.e., has an "avoidant" style of attachment), it is probably best NOT to use intimacy cues when lying.

Partners uncomfortable with intimacy tend to be put off by such attempts to manipulate them through the use of "intimacy cues"—they don’t fall for it and they may actually become more suspicious.

Related Information:

Truth About Deception – back to our home page.