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Tips to tell if someone is lying in email, text

SALT LAKE CITY — An increasing number of people are communicating online and through text rather than having face-to-face conversations, and new studies give tips on how to tell if someone is lying online.

It is often harder to tell if someone is lying when you aren't conversing face-to-face, because much of the meaning in a conversation is conveyed through body language, gestures, facial expressions and tone of voice, according to experts. However, new studies suggest that there are tales for someone who is lying or being a "catfish" — someone who pretends to be someone else online take advantage of others.

Tyler Cohen Wood works as an intelligence officer and cyber branch chief at the Defense Intelligence Agency's Science and Technology Directorate, and she authored the 2014 book titled "Catching the Catfishers: Disarm the Online Pretenders, Predators and Perpetrators Who Are Out to Ruin Your Life." Wood gave several tips for being discrening online in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

She said that people will be more emphatic when they are lying and they will repeat the same thing several times, just worded differently, because they really want the receiver to believe it.

Wood also said that when a person is lying online, they will distance themself from the conversation — meaning they won't refer to themself or use first-person pronouns. The sentences are very vague and they won't include themself as a subject.

Wood also told the Wall Street Journal that the frequent use of non-commital words is a red flag. When someone is using a lot of words like "maybe," "kind of," "sure" or "probably," there is a good chance that they aren't being entirely truthful in their responses.

Mark Frank, Ph.D., a communication professor at University of Buffalo who has done extensive research on deception, told Women's Health that delayed responses are also a sign of lying. Frank said that because liars have to concoct a response instead of just giving the truth, it can take them longer to come up with a reply.



Faith Heaton Jolley is a UVU graduate and currently works at KSL as head writer for ksl.com and runs the Outdoors & Recreation section. Contact her at fheaton@ksl.com.

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