|A new study from the University of Portsmouth in England found that men are more likely to believe they are better liars than women and that they can easily get away with it / Photo by: dolgachov via 123RF|
They say lying is the most fun a girl could have without taking her clothes off, but it seems like they're not very good at it. At least, that's what men think.
A new study from the University of Portsmouth in England found that men are more likely to believe they are better liars than women and that they can easily get away with it. The results, detailed in the journal PLOS One, also revealed the methods they use in lying and their preferences.
Prevalence of Lying
The study involved 194 men and women with an average age of 39. Through an online questionnaire, the researchers asked about their experience with telling lies, deceiving others, the number and kind of lies they say, who they lie to, and how they deliver the lie.
Analysis of the participants' responses showed they told nearly two lies in the last 24 hours upon answering the survey. The six most prolific liars—people who tell five or more lies per day—account for 38.5% of the lies told despite representing less than 1% of the participants.
"Previous research has shown that most people tell one to two lies per day, but that’s not accurate. Most people don’t lie every day but a small number of prolific liars are responsible for the majority of lies reported," Brianna Verigin, the lead researcher of the study, said in a statement.
"What stood out in our study was that nearly half of all lies are told by a very small number of deceivers. And these people will lie with impunity to those closest to them."
The researchers also looked into the association between sex and deception abilities based on the participants' answers. They found that women are more likely to say they are poor liars compared to men (70% and 30%, respectively).
Coincidentally, more men identified themselves as good liars (62.7%) than women (37.3%). Most of the participants chose to lie face-to-face followed by via text message, a phone call, email, and lastly, on social media, PsychCentral reports. It notes that the ability to lie and the person’s level of education have no established association with one another.
PsychCentral is an online source for mental health information as well as emotional support and mental health advocacy.
Spotting the Liar
For the study, Verigin said they wanted to focus on good liars, try to understand how they do it, and to whom. In their analysis, they found that prolific liars are people who are good with their words and often do so to their family, friends, romantic partners, and colleagues. The study noted people are less likely to lie to their employers and authority figures.
These people were found to mix their lies with pieces of the truth, making it difficult for others to identify the difference, and are better than most people at "hiding lies within apparently simple, clear stories, which are harder for others to doubt," the lead researcher added.
Liars are likely to leave out certain information—regardless if they are prolific or bad liars—when they are deceiving people, the study found. While prolific liars weave their lies with the truth, poor liars are more likely to be vague.
"Time after time, studies have shown we are not as good at detecting lies as we think we are," Verigin said. "At best, most of us have a 50:50 chance of getting it right when someone is pulling the wool over our eyes."
The study found that the most common type of deception the participants use are white lies, exaggerations, not disclosing certain information, mixing the lies with the truth, and making things up.
|Liars are likely to leave out certain information—regardless if they are prolific or bad liars—when they are deceiving people, the study found / Photo by: Kaspars Grinvalds via 123RF|
For Future Research
The research revealed the characteristics and strategies of self-reported good liars, both of which may have crucial implications for the reliability of credibility assessment tools. These tools are derived from the "assumption that truth-tellers’ statements are drawn from memory traces whereas liars’ statements are fabricated from imagination," the researchers said.
They added that if good liars rely on their memory of true previous experiences, then their lies may be seen as something close to the truth they want their counterparts to believe.
Another interesting observation is that self-proclaimed good liars are more likely to tell their deceptions with unverifiable details, which complements earlier findings that argue liars give information that can't be verified to balance their goal of being seen as cooperative while minimizing the chances of being proven of deception.
"A fruitful avenue of future research could be to further explore liars’ strategic inclusion of truthful information and unverifiable details," the researchers said.
"Doing so may give lie detectors an advantage for unmasking skilled liars. It would also be interesting for future research to examine how good versus poor liars are affected by certain interview techniques designed to increase the difficulty of lying such as the reverse-order technique."
The findings of this study provide crucial evidence into how people lie and give additional support to previous studies. However, much work is needed to be done to fully understand the meta-cognition and patterns of prolific liars, who are more likely to use their skills to the fullest in investigative settings.