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How To Tell If You’re Being Lied To In Texts Or Email


Guido Mieth / Getty Images

When you communicate with someone in texts, via email or online, you can’t see their body language and voice clues that you would see if you were speaking face-to-face, and that can make it harder to know if they’re lying to you.

The Wall Street Journal  recently gave some clues that could help you tell.

Tyler Cohen Wood, an intelligence officer and cyber branch chief at the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Science and Technology Directorate offers some tips.

  • The use of emphatic language or repeating the same thing over and over again in slightly different ways
  • Language that distances the writer from the reader, such as leaving out personal pronouns and references to themselves in a story
  • Unanswered questions, in which the other person hedges or changes the subject
  • Noncommittal statements like “pretty sure,” “probably,” “must have” or “maybe”
  • Qualifying statements, like “to be honest,” “there is nothing to worry about” or “I hate to tell you this”
  • Tense hopping — Someone describing an event in the past usually uses the past tense, but if midway through a story they start lying, they see what they’re making up in their head and can change to the present tense.
  • If you know how the person usually writes online, look for deviations from that norm.


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