How to Tell When Someone Is Lying By Their Eyes?

by Teo Spengler ; Updated March 15, 2018

Eye spy: learn how to watch someone to detect lies.

eyeball image by Allyson Ricketts from Fotolia.com

The old saying declares that the eyes are the windows to the soul. But do they really reveal when someone is lying? The answer is yes, and it's not just new-age gurus who say so. Experts from the FBI, among others, look to a suspect's eyes as a sort of built-in lie detector, providing ongoing information about their veracity or lack of it. But the signs of lying eyes might not be what you think.

Tips

  • Use FBI techniques to give you tips as to whether someone is lying. Darting eyes and blinking eyes are both indications that someone might be pulling your leg. Other signs include closing eyes for more than a second and looking to the right.

Lying with Eyes

The FBI is the top federal law enforcement agency and interviewing witnesses and suspects is all in a day's work. Agents are trained to spot signs that indicate someone is lying by watching facial expressions and particularly eyes.

Mark Bouton, an FBI agent for 30 years and author of "How to Spot Lies Like the FBI," was quoted in Business Insider on this subject. He said that in order to get real information about someone's veracity from their eyes, you need to become familiar with their normal facial expressions. If it's your spouse, you probably already know how he uses his facial features. If you are trying to figure out if a stranger is lying, you need to ask a few easy questions, like those about the weather or sports news. Watch his reactions carefully, including any facial tics he might have. Then, when you get to the real questions, you'll know whether his reactions deviate from his norm.

Signs of Lying Eyes

At the top of the list as an indicator of lying is darting eyes. If the person you are speaking to shifts his eyes from one side to the other rapidly, it means that your questions make him feel uncomfortable or trapped. This may hearken back to a time when people were confronted by dangerous animals or human enemies and glanced around to find a way to escape.

Next on the list is repeated blinking. Everyone blinks from time to time, generally up to six times a minute, so that can't be used as evidence. But blinking becomes indicative of lying when it happens five or six times in rapid succession. Conversely, someone who blinks and keeps their eyes closed for longer than normal may also be fibbing. Closing the eyes can be seen as a defense mechanism.

Finally, if a left-handed person looks up and to the left or a right-handed person looks up and to the right when faced with a question, it may indicate he is creating an answer out of the thin air. Usually someone trying to recall actual facts will look to the right if he is right handed and to the left if he is left handed. Looking toward the exit or at a watch may indicate lying too, expressing a subconscious wish to leave the conversation.

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About the Author

From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. World traveler, professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.