Two hundred times. That’s how many times the average person can lie in just one day, according to research by Jerry Jellison, a psychologist at the University of Southern California.
To be clear, this research hails back to the 1970s. Times may have changed over the last 50 years or so.
Still, it’s fairly conceivable that if people lied a lot in the past, then they still lie a lot today.
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The difference between the average Joe Blow citizen and a person who has slightly corrupt morals, researchers argue, is the intent.
Most people lie without the intention of deceiving; for instance, they might make a mistake and retell facts that aren’t necessarily true. They mis-hear a news bulletin or Chinese whispers prompt them to re-tell a story that isn’t quite accurate.
Or, they might lie by omission in order to save’s someone’s feelings. “I love that dress” is one such example – when the full statement you would make, if you’d inhaled truth serum, might be: “I love that dress, but it’s far too tight on you and the colour makes you look washed out…”
These lies make up the majority of the “white” lies, or the inconsequential half-truths, that we humans tell on any given day.
And, let’s be honest: sometimes they are required for social lubrication. If we went around telling everyone exactly what we thought about them 24/7, society would crumble.
Where things turn a little shady, is when people purposefully lie with the intention to mislead.
“People ‘of the lie’ are trying to accomplish the same thing with their lies – to avoid, distort, or negate the truth in order to benefit themselves in some way,” writes human dynamics facilitator Steven Bailey-Brown.
You might think you don’t fall into this category – but in reality, most people tell one or two ‘big’ lies a day, reports Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire.
He says we lie “to promote ourselves, protect ourselves and to hurt or avoid hurting others”.
Consider your last 24 hours: how many lies or mis-truths did you utter? The truth of the matter may well surprise you…