Original Paper

Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 205-215

First online:

Windows to the Soul? Deliberate Eye Contact as a Cue to Deceit

  • Samantha MannAffiliated withPsychology Department, University of Portsmouth Email author 
  • , Aldert VrijAffiliated withPsychology Department, University of Portsmouth
  • , Sharon LealAffiliated withPsychology Department, University of Portsmouth
  • , Pär Anders GranhagAffiliated withUniversity of Gothenburg
  • , Lara WarmelinkAffiliated withPsychology Department, University of Portsmouth
  • , Dave ForresterAffiliated withPsychology Department, University of Portsmouth

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Although people overwhelmingly believe that liars avoid eye contact, meta-analyses of deception literature have shown a non-significant relationship between gaze and deception. In the present experiment we measured eye movements in an innovative way. We coded the extent to which interviewees deliberately made eye contact with the interviewer. Liars take their credibility less for granted than truth tellers. They therefore may have a greater desire to be convincing and hence more inclined to monitor the interviewer to determine whether they seem to be being believed. We therefore hypothesized that liars would give more appearance of deliberately making eye contact than truth tellers (a relationship which opposes the stereotypical belief that liars look away). A total of 338 passengers at an international airport told the truth or lied about their forthcoming trip. As well as the deliberate eye contact variable, we coded the amount of time the interviewees looked away from the interviewer (e.g., gaze aversion), which is typically examined in deception research. Liars displayed more deliberate eye contact than truth tellers, whereas the amount of gaze aversion did not differ between truth tellers and liars.


Deception Eye contact Interviewing