Fingers crossed

Man crossing his fingers behind his back (© Bits and Splits -

NEW YORK — The tell-tale signs someone might be lying are avoiding eye contact and nervously talking — but even the most experienced “poker face” has a revealing “tell.” That’s according to a poll of 2,000 U.S. adults, which reveals an overwhelming majority consider themselves a cut above the rest when it comes to being able to spot a liar.

Interestingly, just a quarter (24%) think they have an excellent poker face themselves, with 37 percent thinking overall they’re good at pulling the wool over the eyes of others. Less than one in 20 (only 3%) feel they have a terrible poker face.

When it comes to their own “tells” — signs that give away if they’re bluffing — respondents say fiddling with poker chips, sitting up in the chair when they have a good hand, and trembling hands are the key signs to look out for.

You can’t read my poker face

Commissioned by Online Betting Guide and conducted by OnePoll, the study reveals that 53 percent of Americans believe they’re good at spotting when others are lying to them, while just eight percent think they’re poor at it. The research also reveals when people think it’s a good time to employ their bluffing skills — with playing poker (32%), when someone asks if you like what they’re wearing and you don’t (30%), and when someone makes you a horrible meal (27%) topping the list.

On average, Americans fib four times a day. Respondents also feel someone lies to them about six times daily.

Body language is not a precise science and when you’re looking for signs of lying there is no such thing as a perfect body language ‘tell’, only clues and hints,” says Judi James, a body language expert and author of Poker Face, in a statement. “Poker players, in particular, can use micro-gestures when they lie or bluff but a good liar could use this to their benefit, acting the ‘tell’ to suit themselves and confuse their opponents.”

“Imagine you’ve spotted an opponent’s ‘tell’ when you’re playing poker,” she continues. “You’ve noticed that when they are bluffing their eyes dart quickly from side to side. This ‘tell’ is only useful to you if they’re not aware of it themselves though. If they know their own trait then they can use it to fool you too. Are they bluffing or is this a double-bluff?”

Is dishonesty really the best policy?

Interestingly, more than two in five (42%) think of themselves as someone who wears their heart on their sleeve and finds it difficult to hide their emotions. Despite lying more and feeling they are lied to more, 54 percent say honesty is very important to them.

“Body language doesn’t always tell us the full picture of what is going on, but it can give us a good idea,” adds an Online Betting Guide spokesperson. “Like most things, the more you know someone, the more you’re able to tell if they are a good or bad liar. It’s also fascinating to see just how important we value telling the truth – but admit to telling little white lies every day.”

Judi James’ Tell-tale Signs of a Bluffer:

EYE CONCEALMENTS – Our eyes do feel like the windows to the soul, and it can be challenging to keep the eye expression on-message when we’re telling a lie, especially as the human eye has a vast range of subtle but still powerful expressions.

EYE DIRECTION/EYE DART – If you can pick up on a person’s normal eye direction when they are being honest you might pick up on the clue that they might be lying if their eyes suddenly swing in the opposite direction for one of their answers.

THE MICRO-SMIRK – Some people enjoy performing a lie and will feel an inner desire to boast about how clever they are being to be fooling people. This can emerge in a subtle smirk, where one side of the mouth rises slightly.

POKER FACE – This attempt to say nothing in case it might incriminate can be a whole-body performance but primarily the facial expression will be bland and immobile, and the body stops moving as they speak.

EYEBROW SHRUGS – When someone lies there can be an attempt at bravado which can emerge in dismissive eyebrow shrug.

ASYMETRIC FACIAL EXPRESSIONS – When we lie, the muscles tend to pull the features in lots of different ways, leading to a lop-sided smile or puckered smile with the mouth pulled down at the corners. One brow might raise while the other is frowning or one side of the mouth might be pulled down while the other is hiked up.

THE TONGUE-POKE – This is a gesture of disgust and rejection linked to rejecting food as a small baby. It can signal someone doesn’t like what is going on even when they’re pretending to be happy and relaxed.

HAND TO FACE GESTURES/THE NOSE TOUCH – Like the eye shielding rituals, a desire to conceal the face can lead to hands touching the face or nose; rubbing the face constantly as though tired in a bid to hide the expression of guilt.

SELF-COMFORT RITUALS – Fiddling with an earring or ear lobe, touching their own hair, playing with their clothing, or tapping or fiddling with their fingers can all signal a desire to self-calm under pressure.

METRONOMIC GESTURES – The leg-swing, foot tap, finger-drumming, etc.

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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  1. Bruce says:

    People lie far more than that but what difference does it make? Most lies are told by people in a position of power over who they are lying to.

    If I call customer service for a warranty claim or some issue, they’ll lie outright and waste my time, and there’s next to nothing I can do about it with weak consumer protection laws.

    A teacher lying to a student faces no real repercussions. Neither do parents lying to children.

    A supervisor lying to their employee.

    Everyone KNOWS these are lies but what of it exactly? They’ll smirk smugly and DARVO if anything. Gaslighting is extremely common with liars. They either think they’re so clever that others don’t know they’re lying, or that they’re being clever doubling down and denying their caught lies. And the final tool they have in their pocket is even if caught, even if confronted with evidence, again DARVO, they just complain someone is out to get them, or their lie was trivial, or what a creep so and so is for gathering evidence and trying to hold them accountable.

    We don’t need articles about how obvious liars are. We need articles on why we as a society refuse to punish them for it, and act like it’s so much cleverer and better to let people run their mouths and behave any way they want.

  2. JohnD says:

    The average Democrat tells at least 4 lies per day.

  3. Vendicar Decarian says:

    Lying is what permits evil.

    Lying is what permits evil to exist and to continue.

    Lying is therefore the greatest evil.

    Nothing is more injurious than Lying.

    America is a nation of liars.

    I have never encountered a Republican who wasn’t a congenital and perpetual liar.


    1. dick johnson says:

      and I never met a Democrat who wasn’tt a liar and a pedophile.

    2. Mike Hunt says:

      Uh most lawyers are Democrats nuff said

    3. PACO says:

      You sound absolutely deranged.

    4. Joe says:

      I think you are lying.

    5. WyomingWinnie says:

      That’s a lie.

  4. paul bunce says:

    That’s why I try to stay away from too many average people. I have pathological allergy to lies.

  5. jack mccready says:

    Women greatly affect the curve.

  6. Bobert says:

    I think “journalists” screw up the average and should be removed as outliers.

  7. Mental Health is Important says:

    Men tell more lies than that a day. “I’m Fine, I’m Good” 100s of times a day.

  8. Cowboybobb ???? says:

    Hey Alec, it must be frustrating to be guilty as hell and have nobody believe your lies. Turn yourself in and confess. You’ll feel better.

  9. I'm not looking you in the eye says:

    A common symptom of Autistic Spectrum Disorder is avoiding eye contact.

    And the autistic people I’ve known in life are the most honest people I’ve ever met, even to a point that it causes problems for them (being less tactful).

    This article is trash.

  10. PH says:

    How many does the average cable news station tell?

  11. Truth says:

    What’s the average if you exclude democrats?

  12. Denver Hillbilly says:

    Bogus! The average democrat tells at least 200 lies a day.

  13. The Saint says:

    I guess that means Joe Biden and the D.C. democrats are all way above average in something.

  14. kchill says:

    No I don’t, No I don’t, No I don’t, No I don’t