How to Spot a Liar Through Text Messages

While text messaging has become one of the most frequent ways we communicate with our friends, the missing body language, tone of voice, and eye contact can make it difficult to tell when someone is being dishonest. That said, it's not impossible. There are a number of subtle hints you can train yourself to recognize that will to help you detect written lies hiding in your SMS and iMessages. Here's what you should look out for.

Liars Use Distancing Language

Be skeptical when someone tries to distance themselves from the story. A common way to do this is to avoid the use of personal pronouns such as "I" and "we." Additionally, liars may distance other people from the story in an attempt to hide their identity, referring to them as "some people" or "some friends."

Lairs Also Use Noncommittal Language

Lying is uncomfortable for everyone involved. Most liars don't want to fully commit to a lie and will often use noncommittal language. Popular noncommittal phrases include "I guess," "possibly or probably," "must have," "pretty sure," and "we'll see."

Liars Are Great with Empathetic Tricks

Sometimes people are just being nice, but at other times they're playing you. Depending on the situation, empathetic language may signal a lie. Good liars know that our emotions have a strong influence over what we chose to believe.

Liars Use Qualifying Statements

Many liars set up their lies with qualifying statements. These statements show that the liar is uncomfortable with what they're about to say. Some examples include, "I hate to tell you," "don't take this the wrong way," "to be honest," "I'm just saying," and "I hear what you're saying."

Liars Abruptly Change the Subject

Just as they do in person, liars will take advantage of any opportunity they can to change the subject from their lie. Fortunately in text, it's a little more obvious.

This is just the bare-bone basics of spotting a liar in your text message communications, so let's get this discussion going. What are the telltale signs that you've noticed from liars in your texts? Post your thoughts below, but let me warn you—I've also mastered the art of lie-detecting in comments.

Cover image via Brigham Young University

4 Comments

One thing that drives me insane is sometimes I'll be texting my wife and all of the sudden it'll feel like I'm talking to her sister or her mom. Like if they ask a question that she should already know the answer to, or when she can't ever answer questions that you know she knows the answer to. Or just starts asking a lot of questions in General.

People are always looking out for ways to spot a liar. But what these techniques have in common with polygraph tests is that they actually tell us that the person is uncomfortable with what he or she is saying, not necessarily that the statement is a lie. Some sociopaths, for instance, can blatantly tell a lie w/o the slightest nervousness, whilst some very shy persons get wrongly accused of lying only because their social anxiety & discomfort shows through. So, I'd caution everyone to use these tips as GUIDELINES only, don't interpret them to be 100% foolproof and start accusing friends and family right & left of lying!

the easiest way to avoid lying to, is not to be with some one who is afraid to tell the truth .

THIS IS WHAT MY "best friend" TEXTED ME. SHOULD I BELIEVE THIS? I know she did something wrong and I won't get in to the details but she denied her doings---

And I'm fine if you don't believe me. But i just want you to know that i don't lie and I've never in my life have taken anything from anyone. I can't change your mind about what you think. But i know that i would never ever lie to you, thats a fact. And yes everything i said was absolutely 100% true. I feel the same as you do. I hate when people lie about things they did. That's why i don't lie

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