Suspect you’re being told a porky pie? Good news! There is a new way of catching out these truth dodgers, and that’s by getting them distracted whilst they’re mid-lie.
A study by psychologists a the University of Portsmouth reveal that it takes extra cognitive focus to concoct and maintain a false narrative than it would do the truth, so if the liar is distracted, they are more likely to slip up. Your time is up, you filthy fibbers!
But if the liars are reading this, they’ll know we’re onto them, right? Wrong. You have to be clever about what exactly you choose to distract them with.
The study suggests that it is most effective when you choose a distraction that is of personal interest to them, otherwise they will prioritize the lie over the task, rather than vice versa.
Thus, asking your sister if she lost your favourite scrunchie in 1997 whilst she is mindlessly washing up, might not reveal just how much of a deceptive criminal you know that she is. Distract them with something they like more than the lie, or at least takes up a decent amount of brain power.
Psychologists conducting the study discovered that if a person is given decent opportunity to think of what they want to say, truths and lies can sound just as convincing. If someone is put on the spot, or is working with distractions, lies are harder to pull off.
It isn’t a foolproof system, unfortunately. Some of us are better at telling lies than others for a number of reasons. Some of us are naturally good at lying, some of us are very well-practiced at it, some of us are just evil and see other people’s scrunchies as fair game.
However, these reasons aside, the study has provided us honest folk with a tool that is proven to weed out some wheelers and dealers of tall tales without needing a lie-detector machine, or worse, a face-to-face confrontation. Gross.
So if you smell a fib heading your way, get that person busy with a task that takes up brain power. And if anyone stole a scrunchie in 1997, know that your lie did not go unnoticed.