Can you tell a liar from the way his eyes move when he tells a lie? A new study suggests otherwise:
When right-handed people move their eyes up and to the left in response to a question, they are picturing a real memory. When their eyes go up and to the right, the theory goes, they are accessing the creative centers of the brain and visualizing an imagined event — therefore concocting a lie. The theory, dating back to the 1970s, is widely repeated and frequently taught in neuro-linguistic training courses. But it has never been thoroughly substantiated, and new research suggests it is little more than pseudoscience.
In a controlled study published in the journal PLoS One, British researchers monitored the eye movements of 32 right-handed people as they told lies and truths about recent events to an interviewer. The scientists found that there was no pattern of eye movement that predicted lying. In a second experiment, 50 people were asked to look for signs of lying among interviewees. Although half were taught to look for eye movements, they fared no better at lie detection than an untrained control group.
Myth busted, it seems.