The Eagles’ song Lying Eyes claims you can’t hide them, but people try to all the time.  LA is really bad about this, I think because the professional actors like to try out their skills on the real world. The rules we already know about eyes and truth-telling are the same ones the liar knows.  Therefore, a skilled liar will try make eye contact when lying, raise eyebrows in feigned surprise, or widen eyes when pretending to be scared or shocked.  Luckily, some eye reactions are involuntary or are very hard to fake.

You wouldn’t lie to me, now would you?

Briefly, here are the rules for reading eyes (according to Eckman’s Telling Lies and Allan and Barbara Pease’s The Definitive Book of Body Language):

1. Increased blinking– This could be a sign of lying.  Even though you can blink on purpose too, usually excess blinking comes from being worked up somehow or another.

2. Pupil dilation– There’s no faking this one.  If someone’s pupils are dilated, they are emotionally aroused. If you are talking to a guy and his pupils are dilated, this could mean that he is interested in what you are saying, excited about something going on around you (like food or music), or sexually stimulated.  Surprise, surprise, men’s pupils dilate the most (up to 3 times the normal size) when they are sexually aroused.  The fact that humans tend to mirror showed emotions goes a long way in explaining why men think a woman is more attractive when her pupils are also wider.  How to apply this?  When looking for answers, give multiple choice answer and see which choice your subject’s pupils dilate most in response to.  That’s your answer. When looking to impress a guy on a date, play up your eyes and go o a dimly lit location.  Your eyes have to dilate to let more light in, and you get the effect of looking more attractive.

3. Tears– Sadness and distress are the two emotions we readily associate with crying.  There are also, of course, tears of relief, laughter, and joy.  Look for those sneaky tears that may let on to emotion someone’s trying to hide.  This is a pretty reliable source of information when you put it in context.

4. Gaze -When someone is not consciously moderating his facial expressions, direction of gaze can be a big giveaway to someone’s feelings.  However, experienced liars are good at controlling where they look and how they move the muscles around their eyes.  They are usually aware of themselves enough to know to look you in the eye in order to be perceived as truthful.

  • downward- sadness
  • down and away- shame or guilt
  • away- disgust
We also divert our eyes when we remember certain things.
  • looking up- remembering something seen
  • looking to side and tilting head- remembering something heard
  • looking down and right- remembering emotion or feeling
  • looking down and left- talking to oneself

In western society, conversational eye contact is naturally about sixty percent, and the average time span spent looking directly at the other person is just under 3 seconds. People can manipulate the effect of their gazes by changing their intensity, placement, and duration. Longer gazes increase intensity and intimacy of any gaze.

Look into my eyes. What messages do you think these two are sending?

  • social gaze- Look at space inside the triangle formed by drawing lines from eye to eye and from each eye to top of mouth.  This is a non-aggressive gaze.
  • intimate gaze- same as one above except tip of the triangle is in the crotchal region.  Incidentally, women are better at this gaze because we have better peripheral vision.  Men have to look women up and down to get the same line of vision. Even though women’s use of this gaze is subtle, it should still be used with caution.
  • power gaze- look between eyes and center of forehead.  This is a pretty intimidating look. It is used specifically for that effect and it works.
There are just couple more important things to note about gaze.
  1.  Just as liars tend to look away when not controlling their actions, so do people who are bored or uninterested.  Darting eyes are a sign of disinterest.  Also, just like liars, anyone who is trying to correct this action, someone who is bored may over-correct by looking into your eyes too much.
  2. When someone is interested they will hold your gaze just a second too long.  If women do this to pick up a guy, they gaze, hold it too long, then look down.  It seems guys take a while to process information, so a series of 3-4 “flirty gazes” is probably necessary.
How will we use these?  If someone is asked to recall something and they don’t look away, it’s probably a prepared lie.  We can also identify someone’s agenda by deciphering which gaze they are using.  When out on a date, long looks into each other’s eyes will create a more intimate atmosphere.
5. Muscles around eyes– I won’t go over most of these because I think we’re all pretty familiar with how to read changes in size and shape of eyes (e.g. narrowing in anger, widening in surprise).  The important things to know are how to spot genuine and fake emotion here.  There is one steadfast clue that you can take away from eye muscle movement- the effects of the smile on the eyes.
  • Genuine small enjoyment smile- small grin with crows feet at eyes
  • Genuine big enjoyment smile- big smile with crows feet at eyes and lowered eyebrows
  • Fake small smile-small smile without crows feet at eyes
  • Fake big smile-big smile with or without crows feet at eyes and raised eyebrows
There are a bunch of different types of smiles classified but those are the basics we need to know as they relate to eye movement.  We’ll touch more on smiles in a later lesson.
So… we’re trying out the eyes.  Let them be your focus and take notice of your results.  I’m posting a game that we will play each day to practice our truth-finding skills.  When you play today, look only at the eyes.