Never Lie

Everybody lies.

Years ago, a psychological experiment was devised to estimate the prevalence of untruthful behavior. It involved a broken vending machine.

Subjects were informed that the vending machine was malfunctioning. If they put in a dollar, the faulty machine would dispense candy, but then return their dollar. Subjects who used the vending machine found this to be absolutely true. They dispensed one, two, three, or even four pieces of free candy, and then retrieved their money from the machine.

There was a sign on the vending machine. The sign read: “To report any malfunctions with this machine, please call this number.” Unbeknownst to the subjects, the number provided belonged to one researcher in the study.

Take a guess how many of the subjects called this number to report the broken machine.


That’s right. Not even one of the dozens of subjects was honest enough to call the number and report the broken vending machine. Each one of them took their free candy and moved on.

As I said, everybody lies.

There are many easily identified signs that a person is lying, especially if they are an unskilled liar. As a trained psychiatrist, I am intimately familiar with these signs. It’s almost too easy to spot them:

Liars fidget.

The tone of their voice or speech patterns changes.

Liars offer too much information, babbling on with excessive detail to convince themselves or others of what they are saying.

Machines have been built to recognize these patterns and identify them. However, even the best lie detector has a twenty-five percent rate of error. I am far more accurate than that.

If you listen to the audiotapes of my patient encounters, you can’t always tell. On tape, you miss the important visual cues. Avoiding eye contact, for example, or covering their mouth or eyes. But if you are my patient, and you are sitting in my office talking to me, I can watch your face and your gestures and listen to the pitch of your voice.

I will know the truth. I always know. Never lie to me.

You'll Also Like