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It Takes Just Five Seconds to Find Out If You’re a Good Liar

But maybe don't read too much into this test

“Most people,” says Allison Kornet for Psychology Today, “ lie once or twice a day—almost as often as they snack from the refrigerator or brush their teeth. Both men and women lie in approximately a fifth of their social exchanges lasting 10 or more minutes; over the course of a week they deceive about 30 percent of those with whom they interact one-on-one.”

But some people are better at it than others. 

In the video above, University of Hertfordshire psychology professor Richard Wiseman lays out a quick little test to help judge whether you're likely to be a skilled liar or not. (If you want to take the test yourself, do it now; once you know how it works, it'll be impossible to do.)

If you draw a capital Q on your forehead, Wiseman says, the direction you draw it says something about your psyche. Draw it so it appears properly for others and it suggests a heightened sense of self-awareness, a focus on how you're being perceived by others. Draw it so it looks right to you, and you're focused more internally.

In the video, Wiseman builds on this simple test of self-awareness to make claims about people's skill at deception.

In a 2005 study, researchers showed that there actually is a link between self-awareness and deceptive ability. “Actors with high private self-awareness were more effective deceivers, suggesting that high self-monitors are more effective at deceiving. Self-awareness may lead to knowledge of another's mental state (i.e., Theory of Mind), which may improve an individual's deception ability,” they write.

But the test in the video is an old one, dating to a 1984 study by psychologist Glen Hass. Hass' study (and its intellectual descendents) have been bandied about since by self-help gurus and others to gauge everything from whether or not your boss is a jerk, to perceptions of power, cultural awareness, empathy, communication style, and more.

It all seems quite a bit much for such a simple, binary test.

So take the test, do it on your friends. After all, it's kind of fun. But maybe hold off on making any big judgments because of it.

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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