Stare ’em down. Though the Northwestern lab is out to convince courtrooms that when it comes to lying, it’s what’s on the inside (brain waves) that counts, you can prey on some common deception misconceptions to con people, says Ph.D. candidate Mike Winograd. One: that most fibbers flake on eye contact. The truth is that while telling any story—falsehood or fact—we tend to glance up and to the left, likely because the sky holds few distractions, which frees our brains to recount more details, Winograd says. But because people think eye contact matters in the battle between truth and lie, Winograd suggests locking onto their peepers to establish trust.
Chronology counts. Forget all we’ve learned from early-’90s rap: Don’t jump around, at least when trying to tell a whopper. Though truthful stories are rarely told chronologically—“We tend to jump back in time and fill in details,” Winograd says—people who smell a rat may see your “Oh right, I didn’t mention Jeff had joined us at the bar” as suspect. Iron out the details before you start speaking and motor through, he says.
Drop that phone. Don’t rely on e-mail, text or even a call to tell your sig o you can’t meet Thursday because you, um, have a cousin in town. When psychologists in England conducted two interviews—one true, one laden with lies—with the same person, subjects correctly picked which interview was B.S. about three-quarters of the time when both aired on the radio and about 64 percent of the time when they ran in print, but only half the time when they aired on TV. Gestures may make arguments appear more compelling, the study found. However, if you’re trying to master the art of lying to your girlfriend, may we suggest telling yourself the truth and ending it?