Do you know the science of lying? Why and what you should know about liars?
You are lied to dozens of times every day. They range from little white lies, such as people telling you they are doing great when in fact they are having a terrible day, to serious lies from loved ones and employers that have the potential to change your life.
Being able to understand when, why, and how people lie helps you establish more honest relationships and prevent disasters from happening due to being falsely informed.
Here are nine things you should know about lying and liars:
1. We’re All Liars
While you might like to think you’re an honest person, statistically speaking you too are a liar. Researchers estimate the average person lies a minimum of once to twice per day. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you ever give people compliments that aren’t completely genuine?
- Have you told someone you were doing well when, in reality, you were exhausted and having a terrible week?
- Do you ever tell people you are busy to avoid having to talk to them for an extended period of time or do something with them?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you’ve lied. Those are just a couple of the common scenarios that trigger the most lying.
Related: How To Spot A Liar In 8 Simple Steps
2. ‘Normal’ Liars vs. ‘Prolific’ Liars
The good news? Most people are honest. Recent research shows that the majority of lies are told by the same, small group of people known as “prolific liars.” In the study Variance in the Prevalence of Lying, researchers created a statistical model for distinguishing prolific liars from the everyday or ‘normal’ liar.
Here’s how you can try spotting a prolific liar:
- Prolific liars are those who report that they tell five or more lies per day.
- Prolific liars tend to be younger, male, and have higher occupational statuses.
- They are likely to lie the most to their partners and children.
- They are more likely than the average person to believe that lying is acceptable in some circumstances.
- They are less likely to lie because of concern for others and more likely to lie for their own self-interest, such as to protect a secret.
- Prolific liars tell five and a half lies for every one white lie told by an average person.
- They tell 19.1 lies for everyone big lie told by an average person.
3. Police Have an Eye For Thieves
One would hope that police officers because they spend much of their time trying to separate the guilty from the innocent, would be good at lie detection.
Unfortunately, studies have found that most officers are no better at identifying lies than the average person. However, they do excel in one aspect of lie detection: spotting dishonest people in public settings.
When shown videos of thieves interacting with innocent people while preparing to steal, police officers were able to spot the criminals at a significantly higher rate than either police in training and students. This is significant because it reveals a common problem with lie detection: people often mistake stress as lying signals.
The reason police are able to identify criminals in a public setting is because, as the thieves are preparing to steal, they are more stressed than the circumstances of being in public would demand. On the other hand, during police interviews, even innocent people are stressed because they are trying to prove their innocence. It is how people behave differently, versus what would be expected for the circumstances, that reveal lies, not certain behaviors in general.
Related: What you should know about Habitual Liars And Their Agendas?
4. Familiarity Effects on Lie Detection
Can you spot lies better in situations in which you’re more familiar? The research says yes.
In this study, a team of psychologists conducted four experiments revealing that situational familiarity leads to more accurate judgments regarding truth and deception.