People usually tell the truth about being dishonest

People usually tell the truth about being dishonest

The common assumption that most people tell lies is apparently not true. According to new research from the University of Amsterdam, many people do not lie at all, while only a small minority tell lies very frequently.

Interestingly, many liars are open and honest about how often they do tell lies.

The study

Researches at UvA surveyed 527 students to find out how often they had lied over the past 24 hours. They found that, in common with previous studies, most students admitting to lying twice a day.

Although this sounds like a lot, according to the researchers, it cannot be concluded from this that everyone lies.

It is simply an average, and when breaking down these results, they showed that 41 per cent of respondents said they hadn’t lied at all and in fact only 5 per cent of the students accounted for 40 per cent of the lies told.

Honestly lying

To determine whether respondents were honest about the frequency of their lying, they were aksed to take part in an additional lab test where they were asked to roll a dice.

They received an amount of money dependent on the number they rolled.

As the researchers were unable to see the actual numbers rolled, participants were free to cheat. Those people who had already admitted to lying more often had higher winnings, so much higher that their scores were statistically implausible, thus indicating that people who say they lie frequently actually do.

This habit of telling the truth about lying may be explained by a personality feature of frequent liars: they show more psychopathic traits, such as being narcissistic, manipulative, insensitive, impulsive or irresponsible, and therefore have not trouble admitting to lying frequently.

Future research

The authors of the study hope to do more to further pinpoint the characteristics of liars and also to shed light on the process by which people become frequent or even pathological liars.

The study, "Being Honest About Dishonesty: Correlating Self Reports and Actual Lying," was recently published in Human Communication Research.

Source: UvA

Alexandra Gowling


Alexandra Gowling

Alexandra is an Australian citizen and an experienced expat, having spent (quite a bit of) time in Asia before coming to the Netherlands a year ago. She enjoys writing, reading...

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