When determining if someone is lying to you it has been said to observe the movement of one’s eyes. There have been claims by the Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioners that a glance to the right is an indication that one may be telling a lie whereas a glance to the left may imply truth— until today. New studies suggest there is no substantial supporting the belief that eye movement can determine if a person is lying.

According to the NLP, when one is constructing a memory that actually transpired he or she would glance up and towards the left. A glance to the right implies one is creating an event (it may not have actually transpired). Once one begins to lie a raised eyebrow indicates a fear that one would see that he or she is lying, are just a few examples used by NLP practitioners.

Both Professor Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire, UK and Dr. Caroline Watt of the University of Edinburgh, UK, monitored their participants eye movement by filming each person as they lied or told the truth. The initial study consisted of eye movement where each movement was coded to determine whether or not there was a correlation between eye movements of volunteers and the claims of the NLP.

In study two researchers instructed volunteers to examine a film, and asked to determine if they can tell if the people on the film were lying with the help of the claims of NLP. Both groups underwent a lie detector tests.

The closing study, which was conducted outside of a laboratory, involved Dr. Leanne ten Brinke and Professor Stephen Porter from the University of British Columbia, Canada, analyzing films of liars and those telling the truth from high profile cases. The cases varied from press conferences, where people allegedly victims of a crime or appealing for a missing person’s case.

All three studies were conclusive, in which it could not uphold that the claims of the NLP practitioners. The groups who took the lie detector test did not display any differences. Although there are actions to differentiate between liars and those who tell the truth, the eye movement myth is not one of them. All results combined fails to give any supporting evidence to the claims of NLP.

“A large percentage of the public believes that certain eye movements are a sign of lying, and this idea is even taught in organizational training courses.  Our research provides no support for the idea and so suggests that it is time to abandon this approach to detecting deceit,” Dr. Watt said.

The study was published in PLoS ONE.