Our subconscious mind may detect liars

It may be better to rely on instinct when trying to determine whether or not people are telling the truth, according to new research.

A team at the University of California, Berkeley asked 72 people to watch videos of 'suspects' being interviewed for a mock crime. Some had stolen money from a shelf, while others had not, but all were instructed to say on the clip that they had not taken the cash.

It was found that the participants could only detect liars 43 per cent of the time and truth-tellers 48 per cent of the time. However, when the researchers used behavioural reaction time tests to assess automatic instincts, the participants typically associated deception-related words with the liars and truthful words with the truth-tellers.

Writing in the journal Psychological Science, lead author Leanne ten Brinke said it suggests that conscious awareness may be hindering our ability to detect lies because we are trying too hard to find so-called 'tells' like fidgeting.

"These results provide a new lens through which to examine social perception and suggest that unconscious measures may provide additional insight into interpersonal accuracy," she added.

Earlier this year we reported on a study that suggested partially confessing to a mistake or misdeed may seem like an attractive option but it can actually leave people feeling even guiltier.

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