Can a simple test that takes just a few seconds indicate whether someone is a good liar?
Richard Wiseman, professor at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom, says yes.
In order to see if someone is a good liar or not, the supposition claims, simply ask the person to use his or her dominant index finger in order to draw a capital “Q” on his or her own forehead. And, as they do so, pay close attention to which way their finger indicates the tail of the Q points in order to determine how good of a liar that person may be.
If the tail of the Q sweeps to the left, in such a way that the person facing him or her can read the Q correctly, the person drawing the Q is likely a good liar. If the tail of the Q instead sweeps the other way, so that it is read as backwards to anyone facing that person, the person who drew the Q is more likely to be a terrible liar.
And there is a reason behind this, Wiseman believes.
In a Q written so that it is facing correctly to those who are viewing it rather than the person who wrote it, that person has revealed himself to be an extrovert, meaning he or she is focused on others, as well as focused on how others perceive him. This extroverted focus means the person is likely adept at dishonesty — a good liar.
If liars can be good, that is.
If, however, the Q is written in such a way as to appear backwards to everyone but the person who wrote the Q, that person is likely to be more self-focused, and more likely to be a bad liar.
The process of determining whether or not someone is a bad liar or a good liar is explained further in the video below.
At the very least, it seems like a pretty cool party trick, but whether or not it can be used as a reliable method of gauging someone’s ability to lie is up for debate.
Frank Farley, professor of psychology at Temple University, doesn’t think the answer is as quick and simple as the direction of the tail on a Q.
“Lying is not easy to detect. Catching a liar by the techniques in the video is not precise.”
The results, however, Farley says, really are interesting, and similar tests have yielded similar results. For example, Adam Galinsky, who is now the Vikram S. Pandit Professor of Business at Columbia Business School, once used a similar technique to examine how people see themselves when they are feeling powerful or powerless. In doing the test, Galinsky and his colleage had half their subjects write essays about a time when they felt powerful, while the other half wrote essays about a time they felt powerless. And then, telling the participants their coordination was being tested, they were told to write an “E” on their forehead, using a marker with their dominant hands.
Those who wrote about feeling powerful more often wrote the E so that it would be seen as backwards by anyone facing them, indicating self-focus. In other words, those who wrote the essays stressing power were more focused on how they perceived the letter, not others. Those who wrote about feeling powerless were more likely to have the opposite results.
So detecting a liar with a letter on the forehead may not be such a far-fetched method — although it’s probably best to save that for the second date. And if someone’s Q does point towards being adept at being good at falsehoods, you may want to hold off on yelling, “Liar, liar, pants on fire!” Farley says that someone who is feeling self-focused one day may draw the Q one way, and, if feeling more extroverted the next day, may draw the Q the other way.
Farley says that even though the test doesn’t provide a fool-proof method of detecting a potential liar, looking for answers in a test like this “seems like the human thing to do.”
But apparently it’s not just humans that can detect lies — click here to see what animal has the ability to do so, as well.
What do you think? Will you be asking anyone to draw a Q on their foreheads anytime soon?
[Image via YouTube]