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The phenomenon of lying is quite an interesting topic, and some of the facts involving deception are even more surprising. A polygraph expert and professor of psychology Leonard Saxe, Ph.D., stated that “Lying has long been a part of everyday life. We couldn’t get through the day without being deceptive.”
Only in recent years have psychologists begun to dive deeper into the subject of lying and deception. Another interesting point worth noting is that everybody embellishes their personal stories, and it’s quite amazing how as a story gets passed from person to person, it changes each time that it’s re-told.
Even famous Psychologists such as Freud wrote next to nothing about lies and deception. Famous publications such as the well-known 1500 page Encyclopedia of Psychology published as recently as 1984 only gives the topic a brief mention about how to detect them. As psychologists explore deeper into the intricacies of deception, they’re finding that deception and lying is an astonishingly common and complex phenomenon.
Pamela Meyer states that “A lie has no power whatsoever by its mere utterance; its power emerges when someone else agrees to believe the lie.”
Interesting Facts and Figures:
If the 1980s were considered a decade of profit and greed, then the quintessential sin of the ’90s could have been lying and deception. Especially when you consider the lies told by top-level politicians such as Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Marion Barry and the crack cocaine scandal, even former republican senator Paul Ryan claimed that he ran a marathon in under three hours, while a simple check revealed that the former vice presidential candidate actually took over four hours to complete the race. The list goes on and on.
Eventually, even Hollywood took notice of our apparent obsession with lying and deception and began producing films such as Liar Liar, Quiz Show, True Lies, Secrets and Lies, The crucible, and more. Following is a list of facts and figures that pertain directly to lying and deception.
- Recently in the year 2013, a newly hired football coach at Yale University was fired due to a falsified resume.
- For three years in a row, the New Orleans Saints football team has been charged with bugging and tapping the opposition’s locker room.
- A recent cheating scandal took place at Harvard University and included 125 students that were each charged with collaborating on a take-home test.
- Several researchers determined through a study that on any given day the average individual lies anywhere between 10 to 200 times.
- In another study, researchers found that strangers lied to one another an average of 3 times within the first 10 minutes of being introduced.
What’s even more compelling is not the sheer volume of lies told in such a short period, but the fact that before viewing the video of themselves lying; the participants overwhelmingly stated that they had been truthful in their interaction! This suggests that lying is so common that it has become like a reflex, and that we are entirely unaware of the number of falsehoods we utter daily.
- It has been estimated that a common organization loses roughly 5 percent of its annual revenue as a result of fraud. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, this amounts to more than 3.5 trillion dollars a year.
- One-third of all resumes contain deceitful information.
- One in four Americans believes that it’s okay to lie to an insurance provider.
- One out of every five employees says that they are aware of fraud taking place on the job but don’t report it.
How to Spot a Liar:
With deceit and lies so rampant, you must become familiar with some of the more common signs that a person is probably lying to you.
According to a recent study performed by the University of Madison and the Harvard School of Business, 30 percent of players flat out lied about the amount of cash they had to keep from sharing equal amounts of money with their partner, or they tried to avoid the conversation altogether. The top four things that all of the liars had in common were:
- The liars all talked a lot. The boldfaced liars used many more words than the individuals that told the truth. This appeared to be an attempt to win over suspicious partners.
- The liars all used more complex sentences than the truth-tellers
- The liars avoided using “I” statements and preferred to use him or her statements instead. This is a way of distancing themselves from the lie.
- The liars swore much more frequently, particularly when the partner voiced doubts about their honesty. Researchers believe this is because it requires much more cognitive effort to lie than it does, to tell the truth.
Additional signs of Lying:
- When lying, people use very little or too much eye contact. Liars generally avoid looking the people that they’re lying to directly in the eye; however, an intense stare could indicate that they may be working too hard on a lie.
- Fidgeting is always a sign that someone could be lying. Kids often fidget when being untruthful.
- Without having even asked them a question, liars will often defend themselves.
- People tend to breathe through their mouth rather than their nose when lying. This is because they can’t get enough oxygen.
- Speech hesitations. Clearing their throat, coughing, or other stalling techniques could be an indicator that the person is lying.
- Touching the nose. Research has shown that when people lie, they tend to touch the base of their nose frequently.
- Changes in the pitch of their voice.
- Dilated pupils. Many people’s pupils dilate when they’re lying.
- Excessive blinking.
- No focus. When people are lying, they will often choose some relatively obscure point and talk about it rather than focusing on key issues.
- Deep breathing.
- Lying oftentimes causes anxiety, which in turn can make liars blush, so beware of rosy cheeks!
Now that you’ve learned the major signs that someone may be lying to you, you can use them to detect when you believe a person is stretching the truth to you.
Featured image credit: Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash