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The Direction of Deception: Neuro-Linguistic Programming as a Lie Detection Tool

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • Samantha Mann
  • Aldert Vrij
  • Nasholm Erika
  • Lara Warmelink
  • Sharon Leal
  • Dave Forrester

Associated organisational unit

Journal publication date10/2012
JournalJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
Number of pages7
Original languageEnglish


There is a myth in popular psychology, often echoed in police literature, but as yet untested, that specific eye movements pertain to lying and truth telling. According to this line of thought, eye movements to the sender’s right indicate lying, as the sender’s eyes are drawn to the side of his/her brain where their fabrication is being created. We have put this hypothesis, derived from ‘Neuro-Linguistic Programming’ to the test in two experiments. In Experiment 1, a total of 204 participants (all air passengers) were interviewed at an international airport about their forthcoming trip.
All participants answered one question truthfully and one question deceptively. Some participants answered a third question truthfully, whereas others answered the same question deceptively. No conclusive evidence was found for a
relationship between specific eye movements and deception.
In Experiment 2, a total of 31 participants discussed their real occupation in one interview and a pretend occupation in another interview. Only three of the 31 participants revealed the eye movement pattern predicted by NLP. Reasons for the existence of the myth that liars display specific eye movements are discussed.