How can you tell when your boyfriend is telling the truth? Is it because he he doesn’t stutter or stumble over his words? Or, if you’ve read all those body language articles that say if a guy looks to the left (or the right, or up, or down, or anywhere), he’s lying–so you assume he’s being honest because he maintains steady eye contact with you and doesn’t look around?
It turns out that even if you’ve decided your guy has shifty eyes, he may be telling the truth after all. A new study says that if you a ask a guy a question and he looks around, it doesn’t mean he’s thinking of a clever fib or excuse. It just means he’s thinking, period, and that he may well be telling the truth. (Admit it: Do you have any potentially apologetic phone calls to make now that you know this? We aren’t judging you, we’ve all been misled for a while!)
For a long time, it was assumed that eye movements during conversations reflected which part of the brain someone was trying to use–so if someone looked to the right or left, it could mean they were trying to think in different ways. But as luck would have it, that’s all being called BS now. The new data says that if you ask your guy a pointed question and he darts his glances, he’s likely just trying to use his long-term memory.
In the study, subjects were put in a room and asked a variety of different questions that would evoke a visual response in their brains: two tasks including were to name things that were triangular or green. When the participants in the study answered, they didn’t have much eye movement at all, in part because they’re sort of basic concepts and don’t require much thought–so it was consistent with the old theory that if a guy’s eyes are steady, he’s telling the truth.
However, then the people in the study were asked to describe things that were “pleasant,” their eyes moved around a lot. They’d have no reason to lie about something like that, but it did require more thought than saying that “Grass is green,” so the scientists involved assume that shifty eye movements just mean someone is thinking hard, not necessarily that they’re being dishonest. “Pleasant” is a subjective concept, and a lot of the time the participants seemed to be jogging their own memory for an example of something pleasant, and then telling the truth about it. (Obvs, we’d probably just yell “Puppies!” but to each their own!)
So, next time you ask your boyfriend what he did last night when he didn’t return your text, don’t flip out if he can’t maintain steady eye contact with you. He may well be trying to remember whether he was playing Diablo III or Call of Duty–and he may well be telling the truth.
Have you ever caught a guy in a lie? How can you tell when a guy is lying and when he’s telling the truth? Tell us in the comments!