Tell truth. What percentage of people do you believe lie? You’ll find all kinds of answers to that question:
- A study from a while back in the Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology suggested that lying might be rampant, with 60 percent of people admitting to lying after just a single 10-minute conversation.
- But author Pamela Meyer, who wrote a book about lying and gave a super-popular TED Talk on the subject, looks at it the other way, suggesting that most people are on the receiving end of between 10 and and 200 lies every single day.
No, according to Timothy Levine, a deception expert at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. His work is much more recent.
Truth to tell, I have no idea who is right. It would be great to know more about whether someone is telling truth. This is where science comes in.
Writing recently in the peer-reviewed journal, International Journal of Psychology & Behavior Analysis, Aldert Vrij, a professor of applied social psychology at the University of Portsmouth in England, revealed a new study that suggests a simple trick can make it easier to expose liars. It is about finding ways to increase people’s cognitive load so that lying becomes harder. Vrij and his coworkers suggest that people focus part of their attention onto another concept or task, while you question them about what they are lying about.
The study involved 164 volunteers who were asked to describe (truthfully) their positions on “various societal topics that were in the news,” as a university summary described it.
Next, volunteers were divided into two cohorts: one that would tell truthfully when asked about their feelings by another group of interviewers and the other that was instructed to lie as convincingly possible.
From there, the volunteers were further divided into three subgroups:
- One group of volunteers was asked to remember and recall a car registration number–representing a secondary mental task.
A second group of volunteers was also asked for the registration number. They were told that it was very important and that they would be punished if they didn’t remember correctly.
The final group of volunteers did not mention the car registration.
The result? The result?
” Our research shows that lies and truths can sound equally plausible if lie-takers are given the opportunity to think about what they should say,” Vrij stated afterward. Truths are more convincing than lies when there is less opportunity to think. “
Vrij doesn’t believe that mental distraction can make it more difficult for people to remember the details of a lie. The study is interesting because of the details. This is especially true if you depend on being able identify truth-tellers within business.
In short, it’s more about a strategic than a tactical approach to the problem.
For example, let’s go back to the extremely popular TED Talk we mentioned at the outset by Meyer, which has more than 31 million views. The