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60% of People Can’t Go 10 Minutes Without Lying


The term was popularised in the United States by Mark Twain (among others), who attributed it to the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” However, it is important to look at statistics.

Lying Statistics

Lying Statistics Data
Percent of adults who admit to telling lies “sometimes” or “often” 12 %
Percent of women who admit to occasionally telling harmless half-truths 80 %
Percent of people who admit to lying on their resumes 31 %
Percent of patients who lie to their doctor 13 %
Percent of patients who “stretched the truth” to their doctor 32 %
Percent of patients who lied about following a doctors treatment plan 40 %
Percent of patients who lied about their diet and exercise regiments 30 %
Percent of people who lie at least once during a 10-minute conversation 60 %
Average number of lies per day by men to their partner, boss, or colleagues 6
Average number of lies per day by women to their partner, boss, or colleagues 3
Lying is defined as giving false information intentionally to deceive someone else

There are two things you can say for sure about human beings: our opposable thumbs make us great at using tools, and we are all big, fat liars. By age four, 90% of children have grasped the concept of lying, and it just gets worse from there.

Just how bad is it?

According to another study conducted in 2002 by the University of Massachusetts, the results were even higher. 60% of adults can’t have a ten minute conversation with lying at least once. But even that number makes it sound better than it really is; those people in the study who did lie actually told an average of 3 lies during their brief chat. And I know you’re sitting there right now insisting you would be part of the 40% that didn’t lie. That’s what the liars in the study thought, too. When they watched the taped conversations back, they were shocked at how many fibs they had told.

We lie to everyone. Our parents get the worst of it, according to The Day America Told the Truth, with 86% of us lying to them regularly, followed by friends (75%), siblings (73%), and spouses (69%). But in general we lie about things that aren’t important, little things that we think will make us look better or more likeable. In a survey by a British film rental company, 30% of respondents had lied about seeing the Godfather.

I’ll admit that I am part of that 30%. The Godfather is a classic film, so you assume everyone has seen it. Since we want to fit in, we tell a little white lie. This in turn makes others think everyone else has seen the film and before you know it 3 out of every ten people are trying to carry on a conversation about the classic armed only with the knowledge that Marlon Brando was going to make someone an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Sometimes we do lie about things that matter. According to one estimate, 40% of people lie on their resumes. While that’s something for employers to be wary of, it’s worse if you are part of the 30% of internet users looking for love on a dating site. According to a study by Scientific American, a whopping 90% of people looking for a date online lie on their profile. The biggest fib told by women is an obvious one; on average ladies claim to weigh eight and a half pounds less than they actually do. Men, on the other hand, try to use their profile to convince potential partners that they are taller, richer, and/or better educated than they actually are.

But before you vow never to trust anyone again, here’s some food for thought: A study by the University of Toronto (http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2010/08/18/More-trusting-better-at-detecting-liars/UPI-70301282110618/) found that it is actually the most trusting people who are best able to tell when they are being lied to.

Thanks go to: http://www.statisticbrain.com/lying-statistics/ and http://mentalfloss.com/article/30609/60-people-cant-go-10-minutes-without-lying


One thought on “60% of People Can’t Go 10 Minutes Without Lying

  1. Anne-mari is an excellent Forensic Psychophysiologist (polygraph examiner) who continually strives to update her professional skills, and someone I would highly recommend.

    September 17, 2013, Nate managed Anne-mari at Precision Polygraph Ltd, New Zealand

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