Would I lie to you - Designing for more honesty in a world that likes to lie

11 October 2022

Let’s be honest, we all lie a little.

We tend toward black-and-white thinking - either you are a liar or you are not. But almost everyone has the capacity for a little dishonesty; whether it is exaggerating how often you exercise, or not paying your train fare because the ticket gates were open…

To gain more insight, we put a behavioural science lens on what drives us to sometimes be dishonest. We explored what contextual influences can make it more likely for us to lie and how we may perceive our own dishonesty in different situations.

Based on these behavioural insights, we outline behaviourally-informed strategies to encourage more honesty in our new comprehensive guide Would I lie to you - Designing for more honesty in a world that likes to lie’, published on Warc. Applying behavioural science concepts such as social identity, framing, and anchoring (selecting helpful reference points), can help decrease dishonest behaviour in completing forms, using public services or when interacting with others.

Key takeaways:

  • Shaping the context to make situations less ambiguous, remove loopholes and make clear where the fraudulent line is, can reduce opportunistic lies.

  • Designing questions to be less open-ended so there is less wiggle room can increase accuracy.

  • Making people more aware that most people are compliant and honest, particularly people similar to them, culturally, geographically or demographically, can make them much less likely to lie.

  • How lying appears to be a subconscious trait so just breaking people out of their system 1 mode results in a greater likelihood to tell the truth.

  • Conversely, it might be useful to normalise a frowned upon behaviour like drug taking in order to encourage people to be honest about taking drugs at some point in their lives.

Access the whole guide here, and find out more about our key takeaways here.

If you want more information, please contact us.


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