Are You a Good Liar?

by on May 31, 2007 at 7:15 am in Science | Permalink

Are you a good liar? Most people think that they are, but in reality there
are big differences in how well we can pull the wool over the eyes of others.
There is a very simple test that can help determine your ability to lie. Using
the first finger of your dominant hand, draw a capital letter Q on your

Some people draw the letter Q in such a way that they themselves can read it.
That is, they place the tail of the Q on the right-hand side of their forehead.
Other people draw the letter in a way that can be read by someone facing them,
with the tail of the Q on the left side of their forehead. This quick test
provides a rough measure of a concept known as "self-monitoring". High
self-monitors tend to draw the letter Q in a way in which it could be seen by
someone facing them. Low self-monitors tend to draw the letter Q in a way in
which it could be read by themselves.

High self-monitors tend to be concerned with how other people see them. They
are happy being the centre of attention, can easily adapt their behaviour to
suit the situation in which they find themselves, and are skilled at
manipulating the way in which others see them. As a result, they tend to be good
at lying. In contrast, low self-monitors come across as being the "same person"
in different situations. Their behaviour is guided more by their inner feelings
and values, and they are less aware of their impact on those around them. They
also tend to lie less in life, and so not be so skilled at

Long time readers will not be surprised to learn that I find it difficult to see things from other people’s perspective and thus, consistent with the theory, I am a lousy liar!

More here.  Hat tip to Koettke

1 May 31, 2007 at 8:32 am

Or you might be lying about this 🙂

2 Blar May 31, 2007 at 8:52 am

I am either a good liar or dyslexic.

3 Person May 31, 2007 at 10:22 am

Kink-in-theory time:

-I’m a bad liar.
-When planning the Q, I planned to put the tail on the right side.
-I can easily see things from others’ perspective. (At least on economic issues … not so much social settings.)

Hm … maybe I’m a better liar than I thought … or I’m overstating the extent to which I see things
from other’s perspectives.

Or this just more BS pop psychology.

4 happyjuggler0 May 31, 2007 at 11:27 am

So having empathy makes you a good liar in addition to being more helpful? Ok folks, don’t trust anyone offering to help.

I wonder how many people lie and say they have the Q readable for others? Or lie and say they have it readable for only themselves? It’s enough to scramble my brain. Not.

5 Kieran May 31, 2007 at 11:50 am

What about left-handed people?

6 LP May 31, 2007 at 12:13 pm

Of course, there’s an alternative way to lie convincingly, if you’re not good at monitoring how you’re perceived. If you are able to temporarily persuade yourself that the lie is true, the external behavior takes care of itself without the need for self-monitoring. So an active and flexible imagination would seem to make for a good liar, as well.

7 MattXIV May 31, 2007 at 6:04 pm

I had the tail on the right side, but my prefered tactic for lying that I established in my teen years was lie poorly (not deliberately making mistakes, but simply not putting much effort into the deception) about trivial matters so that my parents thought that I was a bad liar, making it easier to fool them in situations where the costs of my deception being found out would be higher.

8 doctorpat May 31, 2007 at 8:50 pm

A friend of mine chose the method of telling the truth in such a way that he was never believed. Even if he was caught out… well he did say the truth.

On the other hand, playing the card game “Liar”, he was sometimes able to pull 12 or 16 aces out of a single pack of cards.

9 Offshore Software Product Testing June 1, 2007 at 2:57 am

hey this is interesting …If this theory is true then i am a High
self-monitoring one.Want to have more of such analysis thru blogs.

10 Smart Card Development Solutions Consultancy June 1, 2007 at 3:12 am

Well i can things with thers perspective very cooly.And wrote Q having
its tail towards the left side of my very true in my case!!

11 Yancey Ward June 1, 2007 at 2:13 pm

David J. Balan,

I must admit, I have never understood how putting an “L” on one’s own forehead implies that someone else is the loser, regardless of which hand you use.

12 artist brush November 17, 2007 at 9:05 pm

if you could lie but never do so are otherwise unskilled or at least unwilling.

13 謝文豪 April 2, 2008 at 3:45 am


14 Max January 6, 2009 at 3:18 am

Well, I just wanted to say, this has nothing to do with lying. Not everyone reacts the same way, so I believe this generalized stuff is way too non-specific. I’ve lied to many people: parents, friends, teachers, conselors, principals, etc. and I’ve got away with all of it. Everyone who knows me well says I’m a great liar, simply because I do it without hesitation or the belief of being a good/bad person.

However, I wrote the “Q” the way you mentioned, for bad liars. That makes sense, right? I think it simply has to do with your mentality, how calm your mind ( the real one) can be, your quick imagination/wits, and if you’re scared of being being judged by god/people,

15 blah May 17, 2009 at 10:08 pm


16 offshore software development india February 19, 2010 at 8:29 am

to come up with opinion if someone is liar or not is subjective thing

17 Angela May 30, 2010 at 11:31 am

I have tried this test on a number of people, and nearly all the ones who hve drawn the tail to the left are teachers – used to trying to get inside their pupils’ heads in an effort to teach them something.

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