Which generation is more trustworthy when it comes to telling the truth?
Maybe you pride yourself on never telling lies – even if it’s to save someone’s feelings, or perhaps you feel there are degrees of honesty and, while you would never knowingly lie, you may bend the truth to save someone’s feelings….”Yes, your new new hair cut is very, very short but it looks very smart” (Translation – it doesn’t do you any favours, but there is no point in telling the truth because you can’t do much about it and it will grow out!)
According to the first study into age-related dishonesty, teenagers bend the truth more than any other generation. They tell fibs more frequently and more skilfully, the researchers found.
The study results are published in a paper entitled From Junior to Senior Pinocchio.
Every parent and teacher will have heard all the truth-bending clichés young adults come up with at least twice a day: “No, I don’t have home work”. “Everyone at school has a tattoo” and “Of course I’ll pay you back”.
The study of more than 1000 people aged six to 77 confirm that peak dishonesty occurs in adolescence.
Meanwhile, young children and over 60s are the most honest people in society.
While 50 per cent of middle-aged people lied, the lowest rates were found in people aged 60 and older. So-called seniors had the lowest daily lie rate – an average of 1.5 lie per day – and 55 per cent told no lies at all.
The scientists say this is because the frequency with which we lie and our ability to get away with it increase to young adulthood then decline with age, possibly because of changes that occur in the brain.
Or is it that with age we grow to value the truth so much more and we would rather just tell it how it is?
The study, published in the journal Acta Psychologica, shows that young adults are, overall, the best liars. It found that lying frequency increased during childhood, peaked in adolescent years, and then decreased into old age, to the point where seniors lie with similar frequency to the youngest children.
Did your kids tell you whoppers when they were younger? Do your grandchildren make you smile with the occasional fib? And how about you? Is it ever okay to tell a lie?