Mum’s most likely to be lied to shows new poll commissioned by the Science Museum

Lies are most likely to be told to a mum shows a poll released today (18 May 2010). 25 per cent of men and 20 per cent of women report having lied to their mother, in comparison only around 10 per cent of people who said they are likely to lie to their partner. The survey commissioned by the Science Museum and carried out by OnePoll also revealed that men are bigger liars than women, and are less likely to suffer a guilty conscience.

The survey of 3,000 Brits (aged 18 and over) found that the average British male will come out with three porkies each day – a total of 21 a week or 1,092 every year. In comparison, women appear most honest, lying just twice a day – an annual total of just 728 a year. The poll has been released ahead of the launch of the revamped ‘Who am I?’ gallery at the Science Museum on 26 June 2010, which makes sense of brain science, genetics and human behaviour.

Katie Maggs, Associate Medical Curator at the Science Museum, said:

“Lying may seem to be an unavoidable part of human nature but it’s an important part of social interaction. Visitors to the revamped ‘Who am I?’ gallery at the Science Museum can get an insight into lying and how telling lies might be detected. The jury is still out as to whether human quirks like lying are the result of our genes, evolution or our upbringing, but visitors to the gallery will be able to find out more about lying and their own aptitude to detect lies.”

The survey also revealed that almost one fifth of people think lie detection is acceptable to use in everyday life, with over one in ten agreeing that lie detection is acceptable in the workplace. 75 per cent think lie detection is fine to use in criminal cases, in comparison almost 15 per cent did not.

Katie Maggs added:

“In the past lie detection technology has focused on signs emitted by the body, such as your heart rate, breathing or voice stress. As shown in the ‘Who am I?’ gallery, today functional MRI scans is revealing what’s going on inside our brains when we lie. Our brainwaves appear to be able to be measured by EEG caps, to seemingly detect when we’re fibbing. Other scientists think they key to lie detection is in our faces. In 1966 Harvard scientists Haggard and Isaacs found that we make brief, involuntary facial expressions when we try to conceal or repress an emotion, these have been termed micro-expressions. More recently Paul Ekman and Maureen O’Sullivan have studied people’s ability to recognise micro-expressions in liars. Only a few people appear to accurately detect when someone is lying, but high-tech developers today are working on creating more accurate technology. Whether we will soon be using accurate lie detectors in the home or at work is hard to say, but it won’t be long before this technology is readily available.”

Men reported that they most often lie to their partner about their drinking habits whereas women are most likely to claim that nothing is wrong, when this is not the case. “It’s just what I always wanted” is the least likely lie to be told to a loved one by either men or women.

Top ten lies men tell to their partner

1. I didn’t have that much to drink
2. Nothing’s wrong, I’m fine
3. I had no signal
4. It wasn’t that expensive
5. I’m on my way
6. I’m stuck in traffic
7. No, your bum doesn’t look big in that
8. Sorry, I missed your call
9. You’ve lost weight
10. It’s just what I’ve always wanted

Top ten lies women tell their partner

1. Nothing’s wrong, I’m fine
2. I don’t know where it is, I haven’t touched it
3. It wasn’t that expensive
4. I didn’t have that much too drink
5. I’ve got a headache
6. It was in the sale
7. I’m on my way
8. Oh, I’ve had this ages
9. No, I didn’t throw it away
10. It’s just what I’ve always wanted

Other results of the poll include:

• 55 per cent of Brits reckon women are the better liars.
• More than two thirds of people think women are best at spotting someone who is telling a fib – with 14 per cent of women saying they always tell when they are being lied to.
• Women are most likely to feel guilty after telling a lie with 82 per cent saying it eats away at their conscience, compared to just 70 per cent of men.
• 84 per cent of people think there is such a thing as an acceptable lie, with three quarters believing it is OK to fib if it’s to save someone’s feelings.
• 71 per cent think it is fine to protect someone by telling a lie, while 57 per cent would happily fib if they didn’t like a gift they were given.
• 8 per cent have been dumped after lying to their partner, and 7 per cent have got into trouble at work after telling one too many porkies.

Visitor Information

‘Who am I?’ reopens on 26 June 2010 and is free to visit.
Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2DD
Open daily 10.00 to 18.00, except 24-26 December
www.sciencemuseum.org.uk / 0870 870 4868

Further information: www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/whoami

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