The hands and face are the most expressive parts of the body. When body language involves using the hands and the face at the same time, the effect is much more forceful than intonation or speech alone. If someone tells you something while scratching the side of the face and avoiding eye contact, you’ll probably wonder if he’s telling the truth. But if a person returns eye contact, and his arms are relaxed, you’ll probably trust what he is saying.
[ The best way to remember what hand-to-face gestures indicate is to remember: “See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil.”. ]
Gestures involving the hands and the face are widely believed to be accurate indicators of truthfulness. Scratching non-existent itches along the jawline, or excessive playing with one’s own hair raise suspicion. What some people call the “see no evil” gesture, or gently rubbing under one eye with a finger, is associated with lying. A person touching their face, eyes flitting from object to object avoiding eye contact is also often interpreted as lying.
The “speak no evil” gesture of putting a finger across the mouth, or covering the mouth before or after speaking can be a subconscious way of stopping a lie from coming out of the mouth. Actors trying to portray deception will sometimes use a similar gesture. Touching the nose is also believed to be a clue to deception.
Everyone has heard the phrase “hot under the collar,” and it has its origins in hiding lies. Flushing of the neck, or warming of the neck without flushing, causing a person to run a finger around the inside of his or her collar (in an attempt to dissipate the heat) is believed to be a very accurate sign of dishonesty.
While many of these gestures accompany boredom as well, one way to tell the two apart is whether or not the person is actually supporting his or her head with a hand, or if the hand is merely touching, and not supporting the head. Lighter facial touching is more likely to be a sign of nervousness, especially when accompanied by other clues, such as shuffling of the feet.
edited by Logen