75-Nation Study of Lying Shows Differences Among Cultures
Released: Mon 29-Mar-2004, 18:10 ET
Newswise – Americans think they can detect a lie less than half of the
time. Norwegians and Swedes rate themselves even worse. Turks and
Armenians, however, say they can spot a liar upwards of 70 percent of
the time. Worldwide, people surveyed say they can detect 53 percent of
Those are among the findings of work done by Texas Christian University
Psychology Professor Charles F. Bond, and fellow researchers. Bond
helped to explain research into international deception at a
Congressional briefing session in Washington, DC recently.
`We have conducted a 75-nation study with 4,800 participants,’ says
Dr. Bond. `Eye contact, or lack of it, was mentioned more than any
other cue as an indicator that a person is lying.’
And all that shows, apparently, is just how often people can be wrong.
`This belief is most likely inaccurate,’ says Dr. Bond.’ least in
western research, eye contact has only a weak relationship to
While shifty eyes are regarded with suspicion across the globe, the
researchers did find some international differences.
`Around 15 percent of respondents say that liars actually make moreeye
contact,’ says Dr. Bond. `We were interested in this minority view.’
In lands where Islam is the dominant religion, just under 30 percent
of respondents said that people make more eye contact when they are
lying. Fewer than 15 percent of residents of lands where Protestant
Christianity was the dominant religion felt the same way and the
figure was about 11 percent in nations where Roman Catholic
Christianity was dominant.
People who live in the poorest nations tend to believe that they are
most effective at spotting whoppers, Dr. Bond notes.
There are differences among cultures in the estimation of how many
lies are being told. Taiwanese and Portuguese believe they are hearing
about four fibs per week. Americans think they are exposed to eight
Pakistanis and Algerians tend to be less trusting. Those surveyed in
those nations think they are mislead between 12 and 16 times weekly.
There are also differences among nations in peoples’ evaluations
oftheir own abilities to lie. In the United States, people believe
they can get away with lying 56 percent of the time. Chileans and
Argentines, by contrast, believe that they will be caught about 60
percent of the time. Those living in Moldova and Botswana think they
are detected lying fewer than 25 percent of the time.
Protestants think they get away with lying about 55 percent of the
time while Catholics believe that about half of their lies are
`Muslims rate themselves the worst at lying,’ says Dr. Bond.
Muslims think they get away with it only 47 percent of the time.
Dr. Bond outlined his research in a presentation titled `International
Deception,’ March 19 at the Rayburn House Office Building in
Washington, DC as part of a congressional briefing titled `Detecting
Deception: Research to Secure the Homeland.’
The event was sponsored by the Consortium of Social Science
Associations, the American Psychological Association and the National
Communication Association with funding from the W. K. Kellogg