Get Regular Updates!
Search

People

Truth or lies?

Maths, lies and sociodemographic data

Big data can predict whether you’re a big liar. Truth?

Maths, lies and sociodemographic data

Recent analysis of a representative survey of 3350 Americans found a “recipe” of characteristics can predict whether someone lies more than twelve times a year.

“It’s like making a pizza,” says Curtin University’s Professor Arch Woodside, the study’s lead author.

The best ingredients for a big liar were being young, low-income and male, with a tendency towards road rage (giving other drivers the finger, or angrily flashing headlights).

Those most likely to tell the truth were older single women.

And those least likely to be big liars were young married women.

WOULD I LIE TO YOU?

Arch found that 13% of Americans told 58% of the nation’s lies, while 21% said they never lied; 3% reported lying 60 times a year.

But were they telling the truth?

Arch isn’t sure, but thinks it’s interesting anyway.

“This was an anonymous survey…it’s very general, it’s just something I thought would be intriguing.”

And who isn’t interested in knowing the truth about lies?

BUT WHAT ABOUT AUSTRALIA?

The study uses US data. Does it still hold for Australians?

“I would think so,” says Arch, “but to a lesser extent, because Americans are more divided into rich and poor than Australians.”

The US, he points out, has the highest Gini index in the world, indicating a massive gap between its wealthiest and poorest residents.

“When [that gap] gets to be obscene, like it is now in the US, you have a breakdown in social mores, which means a dramatic increase in lying.”

I READ IT ON THE INTERNET, SO…

The survey data is from 1998, pre-Facebook. So is lying more prevalent today?

“You’re asking me for longitudinal information, I don’t have that information. I don’t want to lie to you,” says Arch.

But his best guess is that long-term, face-to-face relationships are best for truth-telling.

“The more non-face-to-face and short-term the relationship…[it] would certainly relate to a breakdown in truth-telling.”

THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP?

Dealing with a lie is a complicated process.

“So much of what we do is based on trust,” Arch says.

“First of all, you understand what’s being said, so you accept it.”

“Then you have to refute it in your mind.”

But by then, the damage is often done.

Take Donald Trump, for example.

“Trump just comes up with these balderdash, in-your-face lies,” Arch says.

Unfortunately, once a lie is out there, people who want to believe it will.

Tracking WA Science VIDEO

Republish

Creative Commons Logo

Republishing our content

We want our stories to be shared and seen by as many people as possible.

Therefore, unless it says otherwise, copyright on the stories on Particle belongs to Scitech and they are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

This allows you to republish our articles online or in print for free. You just need to credit us and link to us, and you can’t edit our material or sell it separately.

Using the ‘republish’ button on our website is the easiest way to meet our guidelines.

Guidelines

You cannot edit the article.

When republishing, you have to credit our authors, ideally in the byline. You have to credit Particle with a link back to the original publication on Particle.

If you’re republishing online, you must use our pageview counter, link to us and include links from our story. Our page view counter is a small pixel-ping (invisible to the eye) that allows us to know when our content is republished. It’s a condition of our guidelines that you include our counter. If you use the ‘republish’ then you’ll capture our page counter.

If you’re republishing in print, please email us to let us so we know about it (we get very proud to see our work republished) and you must include the Particle logo next to the credits. Download logo here.

If you wish to republish all our stories, please contact us directly to discuss this opportunity.

Images

Most of the images used on Particle are copyright of the photographer who made them.

It is your responsibility to confirm that you’re licensed to republish images in our articles.

Video

All Particle videos can be accessed through YouTube under the Standard YouTube Licence.

The Standard YouTube licence

  1. This licence is ‘All Rights Reserved’, granting provisions for YouTube to display the content, and YouTube’s visitors to stream the content. This means that the content may be streamed from YouTube but specifically forbids downloading, adaptation, and redistribution, except where otherwise licensed. When uploading your content to YouTube it will automatically use the Standard YouTube licence. You can check this by clicking on Advanced Settings and looking at the dropdown box ‘License and rights ownership’.
  2. When a user is uploading a video he has license options that he can choose from. The first option is “standard YouTube License” which means that you grant the broadcasting rights to YouTube. This essentially means that your video can only be accessed from YouTube for watching purpose and cannot be reproduced or distributed in any other form without your consent.

Contact

For more information about using our content, email us: particle@scitech.org.au

Copy this HTML into your CMS
Press Ctrl+C to copy

We've got chemistry. Want something physical?