Can you spot a liar?

It’s one thing being able to spot a poker face when you’re playing blackjack, but can you sniff out a lie in the boardroom, or during a job interview, or on a date?

We surveyed locals to find out how good they think they are at spotting a liar and asked whether lying should be reserved for the card table or if there are scenarios in life where it’s acceptable to conceal the truth. See the results below.

You can also put your own skills to the test – watch a series of videos and choose whether you think you’re being told the truth or a lie. Compare your results to others’ to see how your instincts measure up.

Get started

Where are you from?

We surveyed 1000 people in each of these countries and will tailor your results accordingly.
Click a flag to choose.

Canada

Ireland

New Zealand

Quiz or results?

We'll still show you the results after the quiz. Click to choose.

Quiz: Spot the lies

Watch each of the short videos below, then click the boxes beside to decide whether any or all of the statements made are lies, or are truth. We'll show you how you scored compared to others in CanadaIrelandNew Zealand.

I was fired from my first real job for posting something on Myspace
True
Lie
I'm allergic to peanut butter
True
Lie
I've visited Switzerland five times
True
Lie
I have two Aces and a Queen
True
Lie
Score Question
0 / 4
I've never had a pet
True
Lie
I used to swim for the United Kingdom
True
Lie
My favourite sport is cricket
True
Lie
I've got the ten of clubs, the queen of hearts and the two of diamonds
True
Lie
Score Question
0 / 4
I was head boy at school
True
Lie
I eat porridge for breakfast
True
Lie
My first pet was called Betty
True
Lie
I've got the five of hearts, the five of clubs and the six of hearts
True
Lie
Score Question
0 / 4
I have two cats; Elvis and Audrey
True
Lie
I have run a marathon
True
Lie
I was chess champion at school
True
Lie
I have a four of diamonds and two aces
True
Lie
Score Question
0 / 4
I was born in Hong Kong
True
Lie
My favourite colour is blue
True
Lie
I've never been outside of the UK
True
Lie
I have two aces and a king in my hand
True
Lie
Score Question
0 / 4
I was expelled from school when I was 14 years old
True
Lie
I've never driven a car
True
Lie
I love peanut butter on toast every morning
True
Lie
I'm holding a pair of kings and a two of diamonds
True
Lie
Score Question
0 / 4

You scored:

Do you agree with Canada’s
opinion about lying?

Spotting a liar: Perception VS Reality

Thinking you’re able to tell when someone is lying and actually being able to call one out in the moment are two very different things. Our survey revealed that all groups fall short when it comes to identifying a liar:

Group Perception: % who believe
they are good at spotting a liar
Reality: % who are able to identify a lie
Total averageAverage 55% 32%
Men 60% 32%
Women 51% 30%

Interestingly, 13% of people said they believed they weren’t good at spotting a liar, but 27% of these were actually able to identify a lie. Overall, women are better at figuring out when women are lying, while men are better at spotting male liars.

When asked what to look for in a liar, people say the following habits are the biggest tell-tale signs:

  • Avoiding eye contact (69%)
  • Fidgeting (48%)
  • Repeating questions before answering them (39%)

When is it okay to lie?

Generally, our opinion about whether it’s acceptable to lie changes depending on the circumstances. The situations where people are most likely to believe it’s okay to conceal the truth are as follows:

  • To avoid confrontation (44%)
  • To make your children go to bed (26%)
  • To maintain someone else’s lie (20%)
  • To avoid going to work when you’re not actually ill (18%)
  • In a job interview (12%)
  • On a date (11%)
  • On a health questionnaire (8%)
  • In the boardroom (6%)

However, 32% of people said none of the reasons listed above made lying acceptable.

Age also impacts our ethics: 25% of 18-24 year olds think it’s acceptable to conceal the truth in a job interview, compared with 7% of over 55s.

Lying to the authorities

When asked about lying in serious circumstances, people take a more extreme view: 75% think it’s unacceptable to conceal the truth from the police, though only 44% said they would never personally do it themselves.

It seems men are more comfortable with the idea of lying to the police, with 20% reporting that they think it’s acceptable to conceal the truth from the police, compared to only 10% of females. Those in the middle-age bracket also feel they have more leeway, with 35-44 year olds most likely to conceal the truth from the police.

Lying: All in a day’s work?

Many believe that lying is an inevitable part of certain career paths, with politics and law being the professions that people associate the most with lying, while firefighters and pilots are generally thought of as being the most honest.

The professions that people are most likely to associate with lying are as follows:

  • Politician (70%)
  • Lawyer (49%)
  • Estate Agent (36%)
  • Journalist (30%)
  • Police officer (20%)
  • Banker (18%)
  • Judge (10%)
  • Therapist (7%)
  • Doctor (6%)
  • Scientist (6%)
  • Airline pilot (4%)
  • Firefighter (4%)

Do you agree with Ireland’s
opinion about lying?

Spotting a liar: Perception VS Reality

Thinking you can tell when someone is lying and actually being able to call one out in the moment are two very different things. Our survey revealed that all groups fall short when it comes to identifying a liar:

Group Perception: % who believe
they are good at spotting a liar
Reality: % who are able to identify a lie
Total averageAverage 65% 37%
Men 67% 37%
Women 62% 34%

Interestingly, woman are better at knowing when men are lying, compared to when another woman is telling a lie.

When it comes to the art of lying, 27% consider themselves to be a good liar, with 18-24 year olds being more confident (33%) about their abilities, compared to only 7% of those aged 55+.

When asked what to look for in a liar, people say the following habits are the biggest tell-tale signs:

  • Avoiding eye contact (58%)
  • Fidgeting (42%)
  • Repeating questions before answering them (35%)
  • Blushing (33%)
  • Providing too much information (31%)

When is it okay to lie?

Generally, our opinion about whether it’s acceptable to lie changes depending on the circumstances. The situations where people are most likely to believe it’s okay to conceal the truth are as follows:

  • To avoid confrontation (44%)
  • To make your children go to bed (36%)
  • To maintain someone else’s lie (26%)
  • On a job interview (21%)
  • To avoid going to work when you’re not actually ill (19%)
  • On a date (15%)
  • On a health questionnaire (12%)
  • In the boardroom (10%)

Lying to the authorities

When asked about lying in serious circumstances, people take a more extreme view: 85% think it’s unacceptable to conceal the truth from the police, though 58% said they would do it!

It seems men are more comfortable with the idea of lying to the police, with 19% reporting that they think it’s acceptable to the conceal the truth from the police, compared to only 9% of females.

It’s not just the police who make us think twice about lying – 1 in 4 say they would never lie to a priest, and 53% wouldn’t lie to a doctor.

Lying to loved ones

Lying to those we’re close to poses even tougher ethical dilemmas. According to our survey, 1 in 5 think it’s acceptable to lie to their partner about their finances and spending habits, and 17% would lie about the salary.

The topic of previous relationships is a subject that the younger generation seems to take more seriously: only 19% of 18-24 year olds think it’s acceptable to lie about previous partners, compared to 42% of over 55s.

Lying: All in a day’s work?

Many believe that lying is an inevitable part of certain career paths. It seems people are most suspicious about politics, with 62% believing this is where lying is most prevalent. Men believe lawyers are the second-most likely to lie regularly, while women think it’s estate agents.

Do you agree with New Zealand’s
opinion about lying?

Spotting a liar: Perception VS Reality

Thinking you’re capable of knowing when someone is lying and actually being able to call one out in the moment are two very different things. Our survey revealed that all groups fall short when it comes to identifying a liar:

Group Perception: % who believe
they are good at spotting a liar
Reality: % who are able to identify a lie
Total averageAverage 58% 27%
Men 59% 34%
Women 58% 31%

When it comes to identifying a liar, gender doesn’t matter – both men and women were just as good at spotting male and female liars.

When asked what to look for in a liar, people say the following are the biggest tell-tale signs:

  • Avoiding eye contact (74%)
  • Fidgeting (55%)
  • Providing too much information (39%)

When is it okay to lie?

Generally, our opinion about whether it’s acceptable to lie changes depending on the circumstances. The situations where people are most likely to believe it’s okay to conceal the truth are to avoid confrontation (46%) and to make your children go to bed (36%).

It seems job interviews are another common scenario when the truth might be blurred: 1 in 8 males think it’s acceptable to lie in a job interview compared with 1 in 16 females.

Lying to the authorities

When asked about lying in serious circumstances, people take a more extreme view: 90% think it’s unacceptable to conceal the truth from the police.

It seems men are more comfortable with the idea of lying to the police, with just 46% reporting that they would never personally conceal the truth from the police, compared to 60% of females. Age also impacts our truthfulness, as 10% of 25-34 year olds feel it’s acceptable to lie to their partner about police interactions, such as speeding and criminal convictions.

Lying to loved ones

Lying to those we’re close to poses even tougher ethical dilemmas. According to our survey people think it’s more acceptable to conceal the truth from a partner than a best friend.

Our survey revealed that adultery is an incredibly complicated subject – 1 in 10 feel it’s acceptable to conceal the truth about cheating or adultery from a romantic partner. There’s an even more pronounced divide when gender is taken into consideration: 17% of males think it’s acceptable to lie to a romantic partner about cheating or adultery, compared with 7% of females.

Lying: All in a day’s work?

Many believe that lying is an inevitable part of certain career paths, with politics and law being the professions that both men and women associate the most with lying. However, men are more likely to look at lawyers as being untruthful, while women consider estate agents to be in the top 3 professions where lying is most prevalent.

Both sexes agree that a firefighter is the most trustworthy profession, with airline pilot coming second.