Eye movements give no clues about lying

A person's eye movements give no indication of whether or not they are lying, new research has found. Published in the open access journal PLoS ONE, the report goes against the commonly-held belief that a person's eyes move a certain way whenever they are being economical with the truth.

Led by Caroline Watt of the University of Edinburgh, investigators conducted three separate studies to determine a definite lack of correlation between the two.

It means there is no scientific foundation to the notion that looking to the right indicates a person is fibbing and peering to the left means they are telling the truth.

Ms Watt noted: "Our research provides no support for the idea and so suggests that it is time to abandon this approach to detecting deceit."

She added such is the popularity of the notion that a large percentage of the public believes it to be valid, while some organisational training courses even relay the idea to students.

Dr Keith Ashcroft, a Chartered Psychologist, comments:


"Neuro-lingustic programming (NLP) was never designed to be a diagnostic tool and therefore it application to the detection of deception at the outset, some 18 years agi now was debatable to say the least.  In fact, of the research previously published on this matter, all of it has disproved the theory that you can tell if a person if their eyes move to the left when answering the question.  Moreover, this notion appears to have perpetuated by groups such as law enforcement and business trainers, the majority of which are not certified NLP therapists. Moreover, the NLP therapists, to my knowledge, have consistently denied that any such a correlation exists.

"A meta analysis by Aldert Vrij and Shara Lochun, published in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology in 1997, found no empirical evidence whatsoever to support eye movement cues to truth or deception. Therefore this recent investigation by Professor Wiseman and his colleagues is well supported by previous research, and will hopefully finally debunk this myth so we can focus our attention to more salient non-verbal behaviours for the detection of deception, such as micro-expressions, posture, and body movement, which offer much more promise."