The subject of dishonesty is complicated. So I tried to use reliable and first-hand resources. The main parts of this blog post are a collection of quotes from Paul Ekman, Dan Ariely, and Steven Levitt.
Paul Ekman is known at the same level as Freud and Darwin by someones. Ariely is a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University. Also, Levitt is a professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. All three are authors of remarkable books. The main content of this blog post is from them.
You’re a Liar if you’re a homo sapien
If we put two strange people face to face and analyze their conversation, how many times do they lie to each other? Paul Ekman’s experiments show 3 lies every 10 minutes on average. It seems like a lot.
We aren’t good Lie detectors
On the other hand, the opposite side detects how many percent of dishonesties? Experiments show people detect 47% of lies as deceptive and 61% of truth as nondeceptive.
Do you think it’s a good performance? About truth, we are a little better than a coin, but about lies we will lose the game to a coin.
Lies may be implicit
For example, suppose an interviewer asks a football player: “Is that true you received offers from Athletico Madrid and Liverpool?”. The player knows that these rumors raise his market value. So he says: “For now all of my focus is on the next match.”
Tongue Lies sometimes, but this is from the face
We express our internal emotions in our faces. At the same speed our inner changes from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde, our face changes to leak our emotion. A liar can mask its stress beyond another expression, but it takes about half of a second.
Paul Ekman calls “micro-expression” to these halves of the seconds. One of Ekman’s leading practices is teaching students how to detect “micro-expressions” in a liar’s face. Of course, even if people became experts for doing it, they can’t recognize lying. They can detect stress that may be signs of lying.
Facial expressions are coded in our Genetics
Paul Ekman says facial expressions are innate, not learned or agreed upon. That’s why congenital blind athletes at Paralympic and uncontacted people express the same as us.
We are neither Jesus nor Judah
The truth is that almost all of us are little cheaters. A few of us are professional liars and innocents are rare.
Dan Ariely at one of his experiments requested participants to answer some mathematical tests. Then everyone counted their correct answers, put answer sheet in a paper shredder, and reported the number of correct answers to the examiner. They were paid 1 dollar for each correct answer.
The point was that the paper shredder was fake and Dan Ariely could compare real correct answers with what participants said. Participants solved 4 questions correctly on average but they reported 6.
This was not because of a few big cheaters. 70 percent of people cheated as many as these two questions. This experiment was repeated with hundreds of participants around the world and everywhere results were the same.
Religious beliefs can make us more Honest
In a similar experiment, Dan Ariely requested participants before starting the exam try to remember the Ten Commandments mentioned in the Bible. Just try to remember it! As it’s predictable almost no one could remember that. But just because of this change, the number of cheaters decreased to zero.
Dishonesty is everywhere.
Sumo wrestlers in Japan are respectable and trustworthy. Sumo is an essential part of Japan’s religion and history. But the result of Steven Levitt’s research was a big shock to the Japanese. Imagine games that winning for a side was critical and for another side effectless. 10 to 30 percent of these games were held by collusion.
Maybe you can remember that in 1388 in Iran Pro League the same situation happened, but with a different result. Foolad beat Zoobahan and Esteghlal Became Champion by goal difference. The head coach of Esteghlal said after that about head coach of Foolad: “آقای جلالی، خیلی مردی!”
As long as there is a benefit, there is Dishonesty
One third of American teachers help students cheat, to improve class averages and get promoted. Doctors in regions where the number of births is less, recommend cesarean section more. And many other cases like these. Dishonesty occurs in a cost-benefit system. We trade-off between interests and our ego-utility.
So what happens to Trust and even life?
Do you remember Pual Ekman’s experiment I mentioned and 3 lies every 10 minutes? Arthur Aron has an experiment that is accidentally similar to that. Strange people with opposite genders should have asked 36 specific questions in 90 minutes. then stare into each other’s eyes for 4 minutes and Aron said they would have fallen in love, and they have! In a 90-minutes conversation, everybody tells 27 lies. When we can fall in love with this amount of lies, we can do other things too.
In the end, if you want to lie, do it intelligently.