Is there such a thing as lying eyes?
I've started to answer this question in the previous post about avoiding eye contact. In this post I want to continue explore other "deceptive" signals of the eyes, let's see if the eyes really have it.
The purpose of blinking in the human body functionality is to lubricate the surface of the eyes and clean them from dust and other irritants. This means that you need to blink often when:
A. You're in a middle of a sand storm.
B. Your eyes are fatigued and dry – like after couple of hours of sitting in front of the TV.
But blinking also has a lot to do with your mental processing.
Think about your blinks as heart pulses for a moment. When you feel completely relaxed, like when meditating, the heart rate is slow and peaceful. When you're in a middle of a taxing physical activity, like during a sprint - your heart races.
It goes the same with blinking; only in this case the brain is the regulator. An unpleasant stressful mental activity can lead to higher blink rate.
When you're bored or very relaxed your blink rate can be less than 8 times per minute. In a normal rate it's between 10-20 blinks per minute. When nervous, your mind works in turbo mode - it can go up even to the hundred.
So what this has to do with lying eyes?
Simple, a lie usually
requires more resources than the usual thinking process because you need to:
A. Make up the story
B. Make sure the details arrange logically and
C. Control your body language so the lie won't slip away.
All these calculations will result in higher blinking rate than the normal.
Needless to say, people don't like to see nervous blinking and mistrust it. There is apparently even some connection between the amounts of eye blinks to the success in political elections.
There's a theory in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) practice that the direction of your gaze during a thought process can indicate to what part of your brain you're getting access at that moment.
For example, if I would've asked what did you eat last night and you would look up and left, it's a signal that you accessed the visual memory of your brain trying to remember what you ate.
In detective films, the detective can suddenly jump to the conclusion that the suspect is lying because his eyes darted to the "wrong" side and he's actually making things up rather than trying to remember actual details.
In reality, as you may have guessed, it has no solid base.
First, this theory is not reliable one – there have been several researches that found no connection between lying and darting movement of the eyes. It's not helpful as a lie detector and we're still not completely sure about the purpose of these eyes movements.
Secondly, let's suppose this theory has some truth in it – you still need to be extremely observant to spot and remember to where others were looking.
Also, not every
person has the same rate of these eye movements: some can make 3 in a second others
have them 1 in 5 sec. Bottom line – it's not practical even if it was true.
The only occasion this behavior might hint at deception is when it's used to delay a straight answer. Sometimes a little hesitation or "trying to remember" gesture is inappropriate because a genuine answer doesn't require a "long" process of thought. For example, a simple question like: "is this is your suitcase?" is really no brainer – the answer is either "yes" or "'no".
OK then, let's wrap it up…
We've have covered some popular "lying eyes" signals and the meaning of avoiding eye contact. All these signs can point to deceit, because they usually associated with nervousness and unpleasant emotions, but they don't prove it. If you have suspicion it's better to look for more clues to support your gut feeling rather than accuse someone based on his blinking rate.
Remember that good liars are aware of these suspected eye behaviors and can lie while giving you an "honest" direct look. Because our face, especially around the eyes, is the most scrutinized part of our body – it's also the part liars tend to keep under control.
We also talked about deviation from the norm. If it's someone close to you, you know how they usually behave and keep eye contact; a change in this behavior can indicate something is amiss.