German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous quote, “The lie is a condition of life,” seems to hold ground when considering the commonly accepted statistic that everyone lies at least twice a day. A recent survey conducted by researchers from the University of Amsterdam and Ben-Gurion University found that most people tend to avoid lying, and people who do lie usually own up to it.
Back in 2002, researchers from the University of Massachusetts concluded a study that analyzed 121 10-minute conversations to see how often an individual resorted to lying in hopes of appearing more likeable. Results proved that around 60 percent of people lied at least once over the course of a 10-minute conversation.
"It's so easy to lie," said lead researcher Dr. Robert S. Feldman. "We teach our children that honesty is the best policy, but we also tell them it's polite to pretend they like a birthday gift they've been given. Kids get a very mixed message regarding the practical aspects of lying, and it has an impact on how they behave as adults."
The research team of Rony Halevy, Bruno Verschuere, and Shaul Shalvi gauged the responses of 527 people who were asked how many lies they told in the past 24 hours. Participants were also asked to return for a laboratory assessment that would decide how truthful they had been about how often they lied. Researchers asked participants to roll a dice that would decide how much money they were given; however, the research team could not see the result of the roll so participants were free to lie and cheat.
On the survey portion of the examination, 41 percent of people who responded said they had not lied throughout the course of the day while five percent of respondents were deemed accountable for around 40 percent of all the lies that were told. The majority of participants who admitted to lying also came out of the dice test with more money. When researchers glanced back over the data, it was decided that the numbers they rolled to accrue so much money were not the result of a series of lucky rolls, but more likely a result of lying.
"The fact that participants who indicated lying often actually did lie more often in the dice test demonstrates that they were honest about their dishonesty," said researcher Bruno Verschuere from the University of Amsterdam. “It may be that frequent liars show more psychopathic traits and therefore have no trouble admitting to lying frequently."
Source: Halevy R, Shalvi S, Verschuere B. "Being Honest About Dishonesty: Correlating Self-Reports and Actual Lying." Human Communication Research. 2013.