Truth-default Theory proposes that the frequency of lying is not normally distributed across the population and that most lies are told by a few prolific liars. A survey with a probability sample examined the frequency of lying among of adults in South Korea. Consistent with theoretical predictions and well-documented prior findings from the United States and Western Europe, South Koreans showed the few prolific liar pattern. Although South Koreans reported lying on average once or twice per day (M = 1.48), the distribution was skewed with a mode of zero and a median of one. Half of the reported lies were told by just 12.4% of the respondents. Distributions for women and men show similar results. Estimates of lies received also exhibited a long-tail distribution. The data add to the pan-cultural support for truth-default theory.
Truth-Default Theory (TDT) predicts that across countries and cultures, a few people tell most of the lies, while a majority of people lie less frequently than average. This prediction, referred to as “a few prolific liars,” is tested in Japan. The study further investigated the extent to which the Dark Triad personality traits predict the frequency of lying. University students ( N = 305) reported how many times they lied in the past 24 hours and answered personality questions. Results indicate that the few prolific liars pattern is evident in Japan thereby advancing TDT. Results also show that Japanese frequent liars tend to have Dark Triad personality traits, but the nature of the findings may be unique to Japan. Results of the generalized linear model suggest that the Dark Triad components of Machiavellianism and psychopathy exacerbate lying behavior by reducing the guilt associated with lying. However, narcissism encourages guilt and therefore inhibits lying behavior with both direct and indirect effects. These narcissism findings appear to contradict prior studies but stem from use of a more appropriate statistical analysis or the Japanese context.
Testing truth-default theory, individual-level variation in lie frequency was parsed from within-individual day-to-day variation (good/bad lie days) by examining 116,366 lies told by 632 participants over 91 days. As predicted and consistent with prior findings, the distribution was positively skewed. Most participants lied infrequently and most lies were told by a few prolific liars. Approximately three-quarters of participants were consistently low-frequency liars. Across participants, lying comprised 7% of total communication and almost 90% of all lies were little white lies. About 58% of the variance was explained by stable individual differences with approximately 42% of the variance attributable to within-person day-to-day variability. The data were consistent with both the existence of a few prolific liars and good/bad lie days.