In a new study, researchers found that people generally fall into three categories: Some are honest most of the time, many are honest about their lying and some people lie a lot.
In the new study, reported in Human Communication Research, researchers surveyed 527 people to find out how often they had lied over the past 24 hours.
Forty-one percent of the respondents indicated they had not lied at all, while 5 percent were accountable for 40 percent of all of the lies told.
To find out whether the respondents were honest about the frequency of their lying, they were invited to take part in an additional lab test.
They were asked to roll dice and received a sum of money depending on the number they reported having rolled. Because the researchers were unable to see the actual numbers rolled, participants were free to cheat and report higher numbers.
Participants who had already admitted to lying more frequently also had higher winnings in this dice test, indicating that participants who said they lie often, did indeed lie often.
Statistically, their scores were so implausible that they are likely to have lied about the numbers they rolled, rather than enjoying a series of lucky rolls.
Previous studies found that, on average, survey participants admitted to lying twice a day.
Researchers say the findings do not support the the conclusion that everyone lies. Because this is an average, it gives a distorted picture of individual differences in lying behavior.
“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 Dr. Bruno Verschuere, a psychologist at the University of Amsterdam.
“It may be that frequent liars show more psychopathic traits and therefore have no trouble admitting to lying frequently.”