is a very difficult thing to accomplish and involves purposefully trying to
cover up a lie being told to another person. It is hard to go against our
natural instincts, for example when someone says not to smile, all you want to
do is smile. Being able to suppress our natural instincts is what allows people
to lie, however, this is not the sole thing to pull off a lie. In addition, you
must play the person you are lying to. An average person will perceive you a
certain way and look to your face to see if in their gut they think you are
being honest. Experts on the other hand know what to look for and in criminal
cases will use lie detecting technology that involves monitoring your pulse,
breathing, and GSI (conductivity of your skin, sweat). The only way to
effectively lie and not get caught is to manipulate the person you are lying to
by using their theory of mind against them.
The Theory of Mind
The theory of mind involves “people’s ideas about their own
and other’s mental states – about their feelings, perceptions, and thoughts,
and the behaviors these might predict” (Myers, 191). It is between the ages of
three and four, the preoperational stage, that children develop a theory of
mind that allows them to eventually realize that others hold false beliefs as
well as different beliefs and this can be seen through Piaget’s Theory of
Conservation. When a child is shown two balls of Playdoh that are the same, the
child recognizes that they have the same amount of Playdoh. However, if one is
flattened out the child believes that the ball of Playdoh has more Playdoh even
though the only thing that changed was the shape of one ball. Eventually the
child will grasp that it is merely a change of shape rather than an addition of
more Playdoh. Being able to differentiate and draw conclusions are important
abilities that we gain in this stage of development and will continue to use
throughout our life.
As an adult, the theory of mind is used constantly. We may
not recognize it, but we, as adults, are constantly presented with the
differences between our personal mental state and another person’s mental state.
We draw conclusions about their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and make
assumptions of what they might be indicative of based on what we know in
ourselves to be true and what we know from other experiences. We must also use the
theory of conservation to recognize that two things can be the same even if they
do not appear to be the same on the outside.
Expressions and Behavior to Convey Feelings
looking at another person we use what we can see to draw our conclusions. We
cannot read their mind, so instead we look at their facial expressions. When
someone is happy we know that they will smile and when they are sad they will frown.
When a smile is genuine, certain facial muscles are involved that makes it simpler
to tell whether or not a smile is truly genuine, especially when it is
something we have seen in ourselves and others time and time again. Often times
it is not that simple; it takes situational context in addition to a facial
expression to determine what we believe the person is thinking or feeling and
to determine what their mental state is.
is argued that when we observe “a particular emotion in another person it
provides relatively differentiated information about how that person regards
the situation” (de Melo, 73). The idea behind this is that emotional displays
come from the appraisal of events with respect to the persons goals, desires,
and beliefs. Every person can react differently given the same situation. Therefore,
the situation is an important aspect and we must try to understand the
situation and the person’s facial expression in order to gauge their mental state.
The person does the opposite of that using the event and their mental states to
determine their emotional display, although some of this may happen
subconsciously (de Melo, 74).
Using Theory of Mind to Deceive
When attempting to deceive someone who is using facial
expressions, behavior, and the situation to figure out the person’s mental
state, behavioral and emotional countermeasures must be used by the liar in
order to make the person being deceived believe they are being told the truth. Four
of the top clues that someone is lying “involve the face in some capacity – eye
movements, as reflected in gaze aversion, nervousness, facial expressions, and
facial color” (Hurley, 120). To employ countermeasures, one would try to
control their face and eyes. If someone can learn the techniques that will be
used to detect the lie by the person they are trying to deceive, they can use
that person’s theory of mind against them.
By putting on different emotional displays, the deceiver can
mask their true emotional state from the person trying to detect the lie.
Playing with the persons theory of mind means that one must manipulate the
person so that their beliefs are used against them. If someone who is guilty
cannot maintain eye contact, then maintaining eye contact would make the person
believe they are being told the truth. Forcing the person to make the wrong inferences
is how someone deceives another person, so ultimately you must know the
This however proved difficult to do because people don’t simply
take in one specific feature, but instead they are looking at every facial feature.
Many people are mostly successful in controlling one facial feature such as
their eyes, but not the other aspects that give away a liar (Hurley, 128). This
idea calls into question whether or not we should firmly cement ourselves in
our own theory of mind. If we do firmly cement ourselves, we are more easily
deceived and taken advantage of.