Paul Ekman is a psychologist and professor who is an expert in reading emotions expressed in facial expressions and “tells” in nonverbal body language which expose whether or not a person is lying. He can watch a crime suspect being interrogated and, by determining the unspoken emotions and reactions of the suspect, can spot the lies told by the accused. The TV show Lie to Me is based on Ekman’s work in helping detectives solve crimes.
Show this clip to your students [3:52]:
Lie to me! S01E01 Opening Scene
Let’s see how well you can distinguish truth from lies. Have everyone get a partner. We’re going to play “two truths and a lie.” Take turns telling each other three supposed facts about yourself, but only use truthful facts for two of them. Make up one “fact” that is a lie. Mix them up so your partner won’t know which is the lie. Watch your partner closely for “tells” that will give away their lies, then guess which one of the three “facts” is the lie. Give your teens an opportunity to do this. Take a random poll at the end to find out how many were able to discern the truth from a lie.
- What are some lies we hear or say (or write) that we wouldn’t want others to find out are untrue? (Answers might include: Social media posts showing that we’re happy and popular. Telling a friend they look great even when we don’t think so. Leaving out details our parents may not like.)
- Why do we lie? (Answers will vary. They may include: to keep from hurting others, to avoid punishment or consequences, because it’s too difficult to be honest with ourselves.)
Sometimes, we tell little lies (or white lies) without even thinking about it. Other times, we might tell big whoppers, knowing full well what we’re doing, but we go ahead because it seems too scary or dangerous to tell the truth. But not being honest causes damage to us and others, and especially with our relationship with God. God wants us to be truthful and will even help us deal with the consequences of lies. Today, we will learn about the importance of honesty and consider some of the consequences of lies and hiding from the truth.