North East Post
A Voice of the Free Press
1:00 AM 1st April 2024

Language Expert Reveals How To Accurately Detect A Lie On April Fool’s Day

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash
Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash
April Fool’s Day is a yearly tradition that takes place on the 1st of April and consists of telling lies, playing pranks, and engaging in various forms of trickery.

Sylvia Johnson, Head of Methodology at language learning platform Preply, explains:
“Taking part in April Fool’s Day is a way for people to inject some humour into the monotony of everyday life, breaking away from the seriousness and routine. Playing pranks and telling harmless lies is a unique way for people to bond and create memories with friends, family, and colleagues and provides an opportunity to express ourselves in playful and imaginative ways.”

Research suggests that Brits are pretty good at telling fibs, with one study revealing Brits lie 34 times a week on average, which puts us in good stead for successfully fooling others on the 1st of April.

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay
Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay
But, who needs to be on their highest alert this April Fool’s Day? A 2021 study by The University of Wisconsin examined who is lied to the most, and revealed that friends are the number one target for over half of us (51%), followed by family (21%), and school or work colleagues (11%).

The study also revealed that 20% of us lie for humorous reasons such as a joke or prank, with the number one reason being to avoid others (21%). Other reasons include protecting one’s self (14%), impressing or appearing more favourable (13%), or protecting another person (11%).

Sylvia continues:
“Spotting a liar isn’t as easy as you might think. From word choices to body language, there are several indicators to look out for when trying to detect if someone is lying to you or trying to trick you.

“Often, people who are lying tend to use certain words or phrases to aid their deception, which might give them away if you know what to look out for. But remember, there may be other cues to watch out for as well, such as body language or tone of voice, to help indicate someone’s deceit.”

Below, Sylvia outlines vocabulary that is commonly associated with lying, which someone may use in an attempt to divert attention away from their deceit and convince the listener that they are being truthful:
Common lying vocabularyReason
Trust me If someone tries to assure you of their trustworthiness, they may actually be diverting your attention away from their dishonesty.
To be honest... Liars want to convince the listener that they are being truthful when they are not, and one tactic is to talk about honesty to encourage you to believe the lie they are telling.
It's just that... This is often used as an excuse or justification and diverts attention from the truth by explaining certain actions or behaviours.
I swear... Using this phrase helps to cover up a lie in an attempt to make their words or actions seem more credible.
That's about it When someone is telling a lie, they might want the conversation to end as soon as possible to avoid further questions that may expose them.

Other ways to detect someone is trying to fool you:

1. Not saying enough

When someone is lying, they tend to be less descriptive and less specific in an attempt to conceal their dishonesty, suggesting that liars use fewer words in their sentences than truth-tellers.

If a liar is too descriptive or specific, they risk being caught out in their lie, as they may forget certain details or the circumstances of the story may change.

2. Saying too much

On the other hand, a study from Harvard Business School states that some liars may use too many words in order to deceive somebody else. Van Swol, the study's lead author, dubbed this ‘The Pinocchio effect’ as, just like Pinocchio's nose, the number of words grew along with the lie’.

This is because liars are making things up as they go, which encourages them to add excessive detail to convince themselves and others of what they are saying.

3. Examine their body language

Look out for body language cues such as avoiding eye contact, fidgeting, or nervous gestures. If they are crossing their arms or legs or avoid facing you directly, that may be a sign of dishonesty.

4. Watch out for filler words

There has been a lot of psycholinguistic research into filler words, with some research suggesting the use of words such as ‘uhm’ or ‘uh’ indicates that someone is lying, as it helps them buy time and ensure what they are saying will be believed.

Other filler words such as ‘you know’, ‘I mean’, and ‘right’ may also indicate that someone is lying, as they are actively seeking confirmation from the listener, or trying to convince them.

5. Tone of voice

If you are suspicious that someone is trying to fool you, analyse their tone of voice. If it is more high-pitched than normal, this may be because they are nervous or anxious while telling a lie.

On the other hand, if it is lower in pitch, they may be trying to sound more authoritative or confident when lying.

Research carried out by Preply