Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Your feet tell us what you're thinking

As children we learn how to make our faces conceal what we're thinking. We fake what we feel or think with our faces (thus a “poker face”) for social harmony. We also do it to protect ourselves from being discovered when we are being dishonest.

However, we've never taught our feet to lie. Just ask the FBI.

Joe Navarro is a 25-year veteran of the FBI where he served on the National Security Division's Behavioral Analysis Program. He is an adjunct fellow at the Institute for Intergovernmental Research and is on the adjunct faculty at Saint Leo University. For four decades, he has been studying and teaching the use of nonverbal communications for interviewing, personality assessment, and in forensics.

He writes:
Nervousness, stress, fear, anxiety, caution, boredom, restlessness, happiness, joy, hurt, shyness, coyness, humility, awkwardness, confidence, subservience, depression, lethargy, playfulness, sensuality, and anger can all manifest through the feet and legs. When I was doing interviews in the FBI, I focused on the feet and legs precisely because they do reveal so much information about what is in the mind and liars think about their facial displays but not their legs and feet.
When people begin to lie, they often distance themselves (part of the flight – distancing response) by standing further away from you or they point their feet away from you but turn towards you with their torso. It looks ok on first inspection but these are distancing behaviors which reveal quite a lot about what is going on in their brain.
Other things to look for:

  • Truthful people tend to defy gravity by rising on the balls of their feet when they are emphasizing a point, or arching their eyebrows.  Liars don’t do that, because gravity defying behaviors are limbically derived —emotional exclamations we express through our body language which they lack. 
  • When we are telling the truth our feet tend to take a wider, sturdier stance. The minute we feel insecure about what we are saying or if we are lying, our feet tend to come together. Again, this is a limbic response tethered to how we feel (insecure) about what is being said. When we aren’t mentally sure it is reflected in our legs and feet.
  • When lying, the deceiver is concerned about being detected and what you may observe is that concern sometimes drives what I have come to call the “Ankle Quiver.” Here the ankle begins to twitch causing the person to rock the foot sideways back and forth (bottom side to edge of foot). A truthful person has no such need to pacify themselves by this repetitive rocking behavior, but a liar may find such “under the table” behaviors useful to soothe themselves.
A lot more in his article.

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