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Attributes of Highly Effective Liars Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

Attributes of Highly Effective Liars

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


There is something darkly fascin­ating about those skilled in verbal legerd­emain. And at least one team of scient­ists, led by Dutch psycho­logist Aldert Vrij , believes that it has identified the precise ingred­ients of "good liars."­ These resear­chers outline the following 18 traits (pdf) that, if ever they were to coalesce in a perfect storm of a single perpet­rator, would strain even seasoned interr­oga­tors’ lie-de­tection abilities:

1) Manipu­lat­iveness

"­Mac­hia­vel­lia­ns" are pragmatic liars who aren’t fearful or anxious. They are "­sch­eming but not stupid­," explain the authors. "In conver­sat­ions, they tend to dominate, but they also seem relaxed, talented and confid­ent."

2) Acting

Good actors make good liars; receptive audiences encourage confid­ence.

3) Expres­siv­eness

Animated people create favorable first impres­sions, making liars seductive and their expres­sions distra­cting.

4) Physical Attrac­tiv­eness

Fair or unfair, pretty people are judged as being more honest than unattr­active people

5) Natural performers

These people can adapt to abrupt changes in the discourse with a convincing sponta­neity.

6) Experience

Prior lying helps people manage familiar emotions, such as guilt and fear, which can “leak” behavi­orally and tip off observers.

7) Confidence

Like anything else, believing in yourself is half the battle; you’ve got to believe in your ability to deceive others.

8) Emotional camouf­lage.

Liars "mask their stark inclin­ation to show the emotional expres­sions they truly feel" by feigning the opposite affect.

9) Eloquence

Eloquent speakers confound listeners with word play and buy extra time to ponder a plausible answer by giving long-w­inded responses.

10) Well-p­rep­are­dness

This minimizes fabric­ation on the spot, which is vulnerable to detection.

11) Unveri­fiable responding

Concealing inform­ation ("I honestly don’t rememb­er") is preferable to a constr­ucted lie because it cannot be discon­firmed.

12) Inform­ation frugality

Saying as little as possible in response to pointed questions makes it all the more difficult to confirm or disconfirm details.

13) Original thinking

Even meticulous liars can be thrown by the unexpe­cted, so the ability to give original, convin­cing, non-sc­ripted responses comes in handy.

14) Rapid thinking

Delays and verbal fillers ("um­s" and "­ahs­") signal deception, so good liars are quick-­witted, thinking fast on their feet.

15) Intell­igence

Intell­igence enables an efficient should­ering of the “cognitive load” imposed by lying, since there are many complex, simult­ane­ously occurring demands associated with monitoring one’s own decept­ive­ness.

16) Good memory

Interr­oga­tors’ ears will prick at incons­ist­encies. A good memory allows a liar to remember details without tripping in their own fibs.

17) Truth adherence

Lies that "bend the truth" are generally more convin­cing, and require less cognitive effort, than those that involve fabric­ating an entire story.

18) Decoding

The ability to detect suspicion in the listener allows the liar to make the necessary adjust­ments, borrowing from strategies in the preceding skill set.