When it comes to guilt in body language, it is not always easy to detect. That’s because guilt is a complex thing, meaning that it’s a combination of several emotions. Additionally, guilty people don’t always admit being regretful to themselves about what they’ve done. Sometimes, they feel justified for one reason or another, so there’s no clear expression of guilt.
Analyzing someone’s body language to detect guilt can be quite difficult, but it’s not impossible. Body language experts and body language research have made it possible. However, it requires a trained eye and experience. Now, we can’t all be body language experts, but we can learn the basics.
According to the study “Are there non-verbal signals of guilt?” There are indeed facial movements and behavioral displays associated with the complex emotion of guilt. And, today, we will explain a few and provide you with 5 signs of guilt in someone’s body language so you can become capable of detecting guilt in others based on their body language alone.
5 Signs of guilt in body language:
1. Increased blinking rate:
According to anthropologist and body language expert Desmond Morris, increased blinking is an unconscious and involuntary gesture that’s often associated with the involuntary expression of guilt. It doesn’t matter how much you try to control your blinking in a situation where you feel stressed or anxious because you’re feeling guilt, you won’t be able to succeed.
That’s why intermittent and rapid blinking is considered to be one of the signs of guilt in body language. An increased blinking rate is not difficult to notice and it often means that the person is feeling vulnerable.
They know they’re losing control and about to get confronted for whatever it is that they’ve done and feel guilty for, so their brains go into overdrive trying to think two steps ahead and prepare.
2. Eye contact avoidance:
People who know they’re guilty about something will avoid looking into the other person’s eyes. Think about a time when you were confronted by someone about something you felt guilty about and you chose to hide it or lie about it.
Were you able to look the person in the eye while you were doing that? Chances are you were looking at anything but the person’s face. That’s because there’s a lot of shame linked to guilt. A person feels guilty when they know they’re acting against their own values and beliefs or being unethical and shameful.
People also feel guilty when they’ve done something that has hurt or disappointed someone else and affected them negatively. It’s very difficult to maintain eye contact in a situation like that because they feel responsible for the consequences and harm that they caused to another person. They will feel like if they look this person in the face, they will face firsthand the results of their horrible actions.
3. Face-blocking gestures:
When people feel guilt or shame, it’s not uncommon for them to cover their mouths or faces in some way.
For example, people who are lying to someone and feel guilty about it will often put their hand on their lips or touch their nose or some other part of their face. It’s almost as if they’re trying to hide or bury themselves alive just to get away from the spotlight and avoid taking responsibility.
Of course, not everyone acts the same, but many body language experts agree that people perform face-blocking gestures when they feel guilty about something they’ve done or said. It’s a way of protecting themselves and gaining some time to better control their facial expressions.
Frowning is one of the body language gestures identified in a well-known study entitled: “Are there non-verbal signals of guilt?” Additionally, a lot of body language experts agree that when a person frowns while talking about something, in particular, it can be a sign of guilt.
It’s so common for people to frown when they feel guilty. In fact, it is safe for other people to consider frowning a sign of guilt when they are confronting someone about something horrible they’ve done.
Sometimes, people can’t control their emotions fast enough and before they appear on their faces. So frowning can be a failed attempt to quickly disguise whatever facial expression your face could form and betray them or give them away.
5. Fidgety hands or feet:
More often than not, when people feel guilty, they don’t feel at ease at all. As a result, they’ll fidget with their hands or feet. According to body language expert Traci Brown, fidgety feet, whether they’re twisting, tapping, etc., are a major sign of guilt.
Bouncing legs is another big sign of guilt. When you question or confront someone, they feel exposed and may start to panic and fidget.
So, they get overwhelmed and have a lot of bottled-up energy and they need to get it out somehow. They can’t get up and escape the situation, which is likely what they want to do, so they find a way to let that energy out.
Keep in mind that body language cannot be very accurate or trustworthy, especially if you’re not an expert. But, if you learn to read the right signs and signals then you can learn a lot about others by analyzing what messages their bodies send.
In the end, remember that people that are guilty of cheating, for example, can express their guilt in different ways depending on their personalities and characters.
You can’t determine if a person feels guilty or not, based on body language alone, but it can give you a good idea and we hope this information can help you read people a bit better. If you can master your own body language then it could help you take control of your life and transform it for the better.