5 Things People Do With Their Hands When They're Lying, Therapists and Lawyers Say
Dishonesty might reveal itself through specific hand movements.
When it comes to telling a lie, your words might not be what betrays you. Instead, it could be harder to hide your lying hands. Katie Lorz, LMHC, a trauma and relationship therapist with HGCM Therapy in Tacoma, Washington, tells Best Life that most people end up completely unaware of what their hands are doing when they are overly focused on something else, like keeping an untrue story straight. So while you're fixated on your tone and language to support a lie, you might fail to realize that your hands are contradicting what you're saying. Read on to find out what experts identify as the five most common things people do with their hands when they're lying.
They clasp them.
When we're not open to offering up the truth, our hands will reflect that. According to Kerry Lauders, a mental health officer at Startups Anonymous, therapists believe there are five main hand movements that indicate someone is lying. One of these signs is clasped hands, which may signal that a person is "trying to hide something," she says.
Joni Ogle, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker and CEO of The Heights Treatment, previously explained the difference between open and closed body language to Best Life. Someone who appears more confident in what they're saying because they are telling the truth is more likely to "have an open body posture," she said. On the other hand, dishonesty tends to make people appear "uncomfortable or closed off," according to Ogle.
They rub their nose.
Our noses might not grow in size every time we lie, but they can still shine a light on our dishonesty in a different way. According to Lauders, another top hand movement considered to be an indication of lying by therapists is rubbing the nose. "It could be a sign that we're trying to get rid of the evidence of our lies," she says.
There's a scientific explanation as to why this happens when someone is lying. During a podcast for the American Bar Association (ABA), litigation attorney Christopher Meyers of Wilenchik & Bartness said that when a person lies, chemicals that cause blood vessels in the nose to expand are released in the body. "So, the nose will physically expand during deception," he explained. This swelling in the nose then in turn releases a histamine that causes itching, leading to constant rubbing and touching of the nose for relief, according to Meyers.
They fidget with them.
If someone can't keep their hands still, it might not be a good sign. Isabella Meyer, an experienced paralegal and art expert working with Artincontext, says that one of the most notable signs of lying is someone constantly fidgeting or playing with their fingers.
"When a person who lies wants time to make up their story, they do something with the accessories in their hands—like playing with their ring by removing and putting back it, or flip-flopping their bracelets," Meyer says. "Anything to keep their hands busy."
They touch their face or hair.
Liars with fidgety hands might be subconsciously drawn to another specific part of their body as well. Lauders notes that three of the top five hand movement indicators of lying involve people messing with their upper half of their body: covering their mouth, playing with their hair, and touching their face. "If we're covering our mouth, it could be a sign that we're trying to hide our lies," she says.
David Clark, an attorney of over 35 years and a partner at The Clark Law Office, previously warned Best Life about the connection between dishonesty and the touching of the hair or face. "If the person has long hair, they may fuss with it and brush it to the side," he said. "They may also use a handkerchief to wipe off sweat from their head. People do this because they distract themselves from their lies."
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They hide them.
If you try to gauge someone's honesty through their hands but you can't see them, that could also be a bad sign. Lorz shares that someone who is sitting on their hands or otherwise hiding them in some way might be lying to you. According to the therapist, dishonesty can end up producing hand movements that are extremely muted.
"Their body language is showing that they are hiding—and possibly ashamed—of their fib," Lorz explains. "Noticing if the hand movements are understated in relation to the language is cause for pause in believing what you're hearing. It is not fail proof, but it can be a clue to the honesty of what is being said."