Most People Lie Two to Four Times Per Day

And our workplaces suffer as a result.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal artcle, lying in the workplace begins before somone gets a job and ends at the exit interview.

While many of us may consider our lies harmless, they could have significant consequences. The habit of lying becomes contagious, and it does not take long for such a habit to become the norm, and then the norm to become part of the culture of the organization.

Lying in the job application process

One study estimated that 75% of hiring managers caught a candidate lying on a resume (somewhat misleading; this does not mean that 75% of applicants are lying). Such resume padding occurs at all levels, from entry-level to CEOs.

Lying on the job

Three of the most common reasons for lying are: to get a raise, to take credit for somebody else’s idea, and to cover up mistakes. And the higher people climb in an organization, the more often they lie.

Work-life balance

Some people work when they claim to be taking time off, and some people take time off when they claim to be working. An inteersting study looked at what day of the week are people most likely to lie. Perhaps not surprisingly, Friday was hte most popular day to lie, with 41% of the lies, while Monday was not far behind at 35%. The other days of the week were each less than 10%.

The average person spends 1.5 to three hours a day at work on “private activities” (70% of U.S. internet traffic passing through porn sites is done during working hours, and 60% of all online purchases are made during working hours.)

The Exit Interview

The exit interview is the bellwether of workplace dishonesty—if people are lying on their way out, then chances are they have told plenty of self-protective lies all along the way. While many people leave their job becuase they feel their boss does not appreciate them, they may be hesitant to say so at a n exit interview.

While the article offers some useful advice about how to resuce the amount of dishonest in the workplace, I think one of the msot effective ways is to create a habit of not lying. Such habits are fored in early childhood, and need to be reinforced continually during a person’s academic years.

As I wrote in a recent post cheating is surging in colleges, and one of the reasons we re concerned is that such behavior could become the culture of the university. Once tht happens it would be a long and challenging process to change such a culture.

Anotehr reason we re concerned is that if a student is cheating in school, then it seems likely they will cheat on the job.

We all have a role to play in this culture of lying, but I think the most important thing is to simply be an honest person. It’s a lot easier than the alternative, and it puts you on a good mood when you know that you have behaved in an honorable way,


American Psychological Association
Wall Street Journal

63 thoughts on “Most People Lie Two to Four Times Per Day

  1. This is when its good to not be like most people. LOL!
    As the saying goes, “Honesty is the best policy!”
    Though I don’t think you have to tell the boss that you don’t like them when you are leaving a job. Some things don’t need said, though I do kind of wish I would have told my boss that. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. If honesty is the best policy, then sneakiness is the second best. Because if you’re sneaky enough, you won’t get caught, and then you won’t have to lie.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I, 100%, have claimed fake sick days – esp at the job that had unlimited sick days. But karma’s a bitch… I later ended up sick for more than 3yrs.

    Otherwise, I’m “honest to a fault”, even when it gets me in trouble.

    I’ve never in my life had an exit interview.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am sure you are not alone in faking sick days; I’m guessing that’s why Fridays are the biggest day of the week for lying. I have never had an exit interview either…


  3. If you’re sneaky enough, you’ll never have to lie. Because you’ll never be confronted with your sneaky behavior. So maybe employees should attend workshops on how to be sneakier.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I know that people lie, but I always question the statistics of studies such as this. For one thing, how do they determine how many times people lie in one day? Because the liars told them how many lies they told?🤣 Oh, it’s Friday. I better get to work on my lies.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Really interesting, Jim. I’m surprised by the statistics, especially the amount of time spent on personal activities during working hours. I’m sure that some lying is due to people wanting to avoid trouble – eg not telling your boss he’s a complete idiot and couldn’t manage a playground.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This was rather shocking to me. Not the fact that people can be dishonest, but I would have never guessed it would be in those numbers. Now, when it comes to the time spent on personal matters rather than work, I see that every day. As a firm believer in karma, I avoid dishonesty as best I can. Lucky, I have a boss who does not punish someone for being honest. We are all responsible for our own integrity or lack there of. And what goes around, comes around. So if you are comfortable lying to others, than you cannot be upset when someone lies to you.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. telling the truth aka not lying is so much easier, as you never have to remember whatever it was you made up. so even if you have no moral compass or principles, you can think of it as having more headspace, less ‘work’ to do, you can be lazier and just talk without having to consider what you’ve said before, and maybe that will make you think twice about lying. probably not though, if you’re pre-disposed to lying.

    i’m not sure why, but i”m always shocked when someone with a prominent job is later discovered to have major lies on their resume. i just assumed they’d been thoroughly vetted prior to their hiring, but the paradox is, at that level, people are often taken at their word or reputation, no one dares question them, or things are intentionally ‘overlooked’

    p,s, i’m telling the truth when i say this post has stirred up a memory/post for me, about an experience in my younger years -)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was guessing by the tone of your comment that this was a bit personal for you.

      And I agree, it is so much easier to tell the truth, since there is just one version of it.

      And I never got the lying on a resume either, since it seems like such an easy thing to check…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Like other commenters, I found out a while ago that it’s much easier to tell the truth. Not only is it easier, it also makes you feel better about yourself. One thing that I am wondering about though is the definition of a lie for this study as there are many shades of reality between a truth and a lie.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Interesting post and I believe it because I’ve seen it. I have also been chastised for being too honest when others would lie. Corporations prefer yes-people so make it easier to justify lies. And although I was not good at telling lies face to face, I was great at telephone lies when I needed a day away from work.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. An interesting piece, Jim, but sadly I’m not that surprised. But at least most of us don’t have the Washington Post keeping count of our porkies…

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Hi Jim, sadly, based on my experience in the work place, this is pretty accurate. People do not regard theft of time in the work place in that light and will frequently lie themselves out of any situation. I do not lie at work, because money and recognition have never been my main motivation. My reputation and personal integrity as well as job satisfaction are the most important things to me. I strive for work life balance but my OCD and workaholic tendencies work against me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. it is sad to realize the amount of dishonesty that happens in the workplace. And my guess is that despite your claim to being a workaholic, you have a nice work-life balance…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, but if you’ve done all your work, and at a high level, I don’t see anything wrong with taking the occcasional break to surf the web. If a person is not getting their work done, then that is an issue…

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I find I exaggerate stories when I tell it in person (to sell it or give it a dramatic twist) lol.. Bad habit! But yes I do hate liars!

    At work though, I feel so guilty if I ever told a lie or had a secret! Once my boss overpaid me and I told him right away.. He was impressed.. He said in all his years of owning his own business only 2 people came to him to let him know and he believed that an error like that happened more often than was reported…

    Liked by 2 people

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