Those lying eyes? Research disputes claim they reveal deception

  • Updated: July 14, 2012 - 4:39 PM
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New research claims to refute the idea that particular eye movements are associated with deception

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If you think you can tell if someone is lying from their eyes, think again.

New research claims to refute the idea that particular eye movements are associated with deception.

One of the tenets of neuro-linguistic programming, a family of techniques for psychotherapy, is that eye movements reflect what the brain is doing. Looking up and to the right, for example, indicates a constructed thought, a lie, whereas looking up and left means you are accessing a memory.

"People pay a lot of money to go on training courses to [learn to] detect lies," said study author Caroline Watt, a psychologist at the University of Edinburgh. "[Our] evidence suggests that people are wasting their money."

Watt and a team of psychologists performed three experiments to test whether eye movement direction was associated with telling lies, and failed to find evidence to support the hypothesis. Their results were published in the journal PLoS ONE.

She said there are still deception clues, such as "the way that people speak and answer, hesitating and taking a long time, holding themselves physically still because they are concentrating."

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