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The People Most Likely to Be 'Big' Liars, According to Researchers

"When seeking the truth, talk to people older than 70."
A woman with a questioning gaze is facing another person who is concealing crossed fingers behind their back
Photo by Lisa Madovich via Stocksy

From the direction of their gaze, to providing way more detail than is necessary—we all like to think we can spot a liar. Apparently 60 percent of people will lie once during a ten-minute conversation anyway, so chances are fairly high that things aren't coming to you straight.

But now a group of professors from Curtin University have gone even deeper into the art of liar profiling, by creating a grid formula designed to separate the frankest individuals from those with shiftier tendencies.


Their study, published in 2016 in the Journal of Business Research, defines "big" liars as those who tell 12 or more significant fibs per year. It also found 13 percent of people tell 58 percent of the totalled untruths—that's ten percent of the population telling more than half of all the lies.

People lie most of all to themselves.

Two key groups of "big" liars emerged from their analysis of 3,349 self-reporting participants, from "all major ethnic, incomes, and geographic regions" of the US. The first group was single, low-educated, antisocial, childless, and house-renting men. The second group was women who are married, young, wealthy, antisocial, and home-owning.

Older (70+) single women were found to tell the least lies. Woodside believes this is due to "the desire to be helpful even if the truth hurts".

Of course, none of this means that ticking those boxes actually means you are, or aren't, a liar. "Gender by itself is not useful in identifying liars," Woodside concedes, "but gender does appear in specific configurations that indicate big liars, and some of these configurations are unique to women and some to males."

To uncover deceit, Woodside recommends time above all else: "Look at what they do versus what they say they do," he tells Broadly. "Because people lie most of all to themselves."

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"When seeking the truth, talk to people who are 70 years old [or older]," Woodside adds, referring to his additional finding that five out of six older people "will tell you the truth."

Finally: "We really do not know ourselves very well, but most of us think we do. Such thinking may be the biggest lie of all."