How To Tell If Someone Is Lying From Their Body Language

If you want to know how to tell someone is lying to you from their body language then pay attention to the freeze, flight, or fight responses from our caveman times.

Hey there, Steve here and welcome to this week’s private eye post where I’ll cover the key body language basics displayed by people when they’re lying.

200.000 years ago, our freeze, flight, or fight responses were necessary to hide or run from predators. Nowadays, the same part of our brain (the lizard brain) uses the same responses in social situations.

Here’s the thing…

When the lizard brain responses react to a situation, the liar’s more developed part of the brain attempts to control the reaction. In other words, the liar tries to cover up the initial lizard brain reaction.

So, let’s see how these initial reactions and attempts to control them translate into reliable body language indicators of lying.

Disclaimer: This information is for general educational purposes only and may not apply to all situations — everyone is unique after all. For help with an individual situation, please contact us —the first call is free, and we may just be able to put your mind at rest!

1 — Caught In Headlights

Let’s suppose your partner is cheating, and you’re having a chat with them about their day. They have to lie to you about how they spent their time.

In readiness for a potential confrontation (fight response) they may appear very still (freeze.) This is the opposite of what most people expect, which is that people tend to fidget when they’re nervous.

The way to detect this is to observe your partner in normal conversation. Most people move around in subtle and relaxed ways when they’re comfortable with the person they’re speaking with.

So, if your partner is almost catatonic, the question to ask in your head is, “What is the potential confrontation they’re preparing for?

2 — The Head Shift

If you ask a question and your partner, who has been sitting or standing very still, suddenly cocks, tilts or jerks back their head sharply, it’s often an indication they’re about to answer with a lie. It’s a natural part of the fight response as if they’re readying themselves for the confrontation.

3 — Huff And Puff

When our bodies are readying themselves for a confrontation (the lie is part of the fight) many physical changes happen to our body. Adrenaline is released. Our heart rate increases. Blood flows to different parts of our body.

And usually, our breathing increases to get the extra oxygen we’re going to need.

So, many unaccomplished liars breathe heavily — they will look out of breath in some cases. (It’s usually followed by swallowing in an attempt to calm themselves down.)

4 — Covering Up

A common sign of deceit in young children is to cover their mouths when they tell a lie. In adults, this tends to manifest as touching the mouth, nose, chin or ears. It’s a sign they’re keeping something hidden.

Another cover-up sign is when something strikes a chord and the natural instinct is to cover the vulnerable body parts. I’m talking about things like the throat (especially common in women), chest, abdomen or head.

5 — Everybody’s Shuffling

The feet typically provide the most reliable body language signals. They point at people we like and turn away when we want to leave a conversation. When people lie they tend to shuffle their feet — it’s the body’s way of saying, “I’m not happy with this situation and I want to walk away and leave.” In essence, the modern-day equivalent of the flight response.


The best way to get good at learning how to tell if someone is lying from their body language and interpreting the correct meaning is to simply observe as much as possible.

Then try to fit the behaviour into the situation and see if you can predict what someone is about to do or say based on your observations. For suspected liars and cheats, try to fit the signs into the freeze-fight-flight response.

Follow us on Facebook for more information on the body language of cheats and liars, and how to get help if you think you need to.

Until next week,