(NEW YORK) -- Your eyes may not say it all when it comes to lying, according to a new study.
Despite the common belief that shifty eyes -- moving up and to the right -- indicate deception, researchers found no connection between where the eyes move and whether a person is telling the truth.
In three separate experiments, they tested whether people who lied tended to move their eyes up and to the right, more than people who were not lying. They found no association between which direction the eyes moved and whether participants were telling the truth.
"This is in line with findings from a considerable amount of previous work showing that facial clues (including eye movements) are poor indicators of deception," wrote the authors, led by Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. The study is published in the online journal PLoS ONE.
Howard Ehrlichman, a professor emeritus of psychology at Queens College of the City University of New York, has done considerable research on eye movements, and said he also never found any link between the direction of eye movements and lying.
"This does not mean that the eyes don't tell us anything about what people are thinking," he said. "I found that while the direction of eye movements wasn't related to anything, whether people actually made eye movements or not was related to aspects of things going on in their mind."
He said that people tend to make eye movements -- about one per second on average -- when they are retrieving information from their long-term memory.
"If there's no eye movement during a television interview, I'm convinced that the person has rehearsed or repeated what they are going to say many times and don't have to search for the answer in their long-term memories," Ehrlichman said.
He said he's not sure where the notion about directionality of eye movement and lying came from, but said it has spread despite little scientific evidence for it.
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