All The Rest Is Lies

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It seems that while most of us are fairly honest, there are a few out there who are contributing most of the dishonesty in our society. This pattern of a few individuals telling most of the lies follows what is known as the Pareto principle , which is also known as "the law of the vital few. For instance, when it comes to alcohol consumption in the U. Thus, the vital few represent a disproportionate amount of drinking behavior. Liars follow a similar pattern. We replicated this finding in our recent study on lying. It seems that a relatively small group of people in our society is responsible for the vast majority of the lying and dishonesty.

Who are these prolific liars? Personality is one variable that accounts for who lies the most. Additionally, they tend to be low in conscientiousness and openness to new experiences.

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In another recent study of ours, we investigated whether the number of lies one tells is associated with the attitudes that one holds about dishonesty. We found that people who tend to view lying as an acceptable behavior in our culture also tended to be the more prolific liars. They were also relatively likely to be people who were in high-status occupations.

Looking more specifically at the careers of prolific liars, they tended to be working in business fields and in tech careers. The most extraordinary liars do not always get away with their lies. Serota and Levine found that prolific liars are significantly more likely to have their romantic relationships end because of their dishonesty. They are also much more likely to be reprimanded or fired from their jobs because of their deceit.

Perhaps these very severe consequences of prolific lying are what helps keep excessive liars to a minimum in our society. It seems that most people lie.

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We learn to lie at a young age, and for most of us, dishonesty tapers off in adulthood, with most adults lying quite infrequently. However, we might be wise to keep our guard up, as there are a few rotten apples out there who very regularly try to use guile and deceit to take advantage of the rest of us. Some lie a lot. Christian L. Back Psychology Today. Back Find Counselling. Hong Kong Kowloon New Territories.

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Fake News and the Illusory Truth Effect. A third of British voters view Mr Johnson favourably but only a fifth think he is honest. Voters believe in their leaders even if they do not believe them. The answer starts with the primacy of intuitive decision-making.


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At no point did the parts of the brain associated with reason show any response at all. The most important consequence of the domination of intuition is the pervasiveness of confirmation bias—the tendency to seek out and interpret information that confirms what you already think. It is a feature of reasoning, not a bug.

Matchbox 20 - Bed Of Lies

This says that people process information in a way that protects their self-image and the image they think others have of them. For example, those who live surrounded by climate-change sceptics may avoid saying anything that suggests humankind is altering the climate, simply to avoid becoming an outcast. A climate sceptic encircled by members of Extinction Rebellion might do the same thing in reverse. All give rise to the acceptance of bias.

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Thomas Gilovich of Cornell shows how fake news, cognition bias and assuming that people are telling the truth interact to make it easier to believe lies. That may be why so many climate sceptics manage to cling to their beliefs in the teeth of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. You might expect or hope that thoughtful people would be more amenable to the force of fact-based evidence than most.

Alas, no. According to David Perkins of Harvard University, the brighter people are, the more deftly they can conjure up post-hoc justifications for arguments that back their own side. Brainboxes are as likely as anyone else to ignore facts which support their foes. What do you do, sir? Join them. Subscribe to The Economist today. Media Audio edition Economist Films Podcasts. New to The Economist?

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More up icon. This article is full of lies You really can fool some of the people, all of the time Politicians pay a surprisingly small price for dishonesty. Reuse this content About The Economist. Gone, but not quietly Bolivia in chaos after Evo Morales quits. Lexington The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost most Americans nothing. Daily chart Californians close to wildfires are more likely to vote green. Subscribe now. Each week, over one million subscribers trust us to help them make sense of the world.


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