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How to Tell If Someone is Lying: Just Look at Their Smile

How to Tell If Someone is Lying: Just Look at Their Smile

The Science of Smiles Best Dentist Pasadena CAIt’s an age old question people for years have been trying to answer: How can you spot a liar?

New research may have found the secret: It’s in their smile.

Expression Analyzation

Researchers came to this conclusion, following a volunteer study via Amazon Mechanical Turk.

They split volunteers into 151 pairs. In each pair, one person was designated the “interrogator,” who would ask questions to the other person, called the “describer.” The describer would answer the questions, which included some baseline questions and then some questions about a certain picture.

Describers had to answer the baseline questions truthfully, but were assigned to randomly tell the truth or lie about the picture. Video captured of those describers included over 1.25 million frames of individual expressions. Researchers then took these expressions and tried to correlate them with whether a person was lying or telling the truth.

People Actually Enjoy Lying

Researchers found that describers had five different characteristic types of smiles. However, one smile seemed to be linked to lying more than any of the others: the Duchenne smile.

The Duchenne smile is sometimes called a “true” or “genuine” smile. It’s named after French neurologist Guillaume Duchenne, whose 19th-century experiments on facial muscles and nerves described what he saw as the difference between happy smiles and social smiles. To Duchenne, a smile that showed true happiness involved the orbis oculi muscle, which raises the cheeks and crinkles the corner of the eyes (what eventually creates crow’s feet). He said this was a truly genuine smile because people can’t voluntarily control the orbis oculi muscle–it only activates involuntarily when we’re happy.

As a result, researchers in this study say the link between the Duchenne smile and lying shows that people actually enjoy deceiving others, and that’s why they smile bigger.

How Often Are You Smiling?

Hopefully, most of us have occasions other than lying that bring out our smiles. But if you’re unhappy or uncomfortable with your smile, you might be reluctant to share it on a daily basis.

If this is how you feel, we can help. Let us give you a smile that you’ll love to share all the time, and not just save as a lie detector.


THE SCIENCE OF SMILES® offers affordable cosmetic and laser dentistry and gentle, compassionate general dental care in Pasadena, CA. Our office is conveniently located with extended hours to meet your needs. At THE SCIENCE OF SMILES®, we provide most dental services, from basic preventative care and general dentistry to specialized procedures and complete dental reconstruction. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable dental care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping those smiles healthy, beautiful, and bright. Discover affordable up-to-date dentistry and a team who truly cares at THE SCIENCE OF SMILES®.