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I swear a bit too much (military background). But that has no connection with lying, sorry guys. I am very truthful and strive to never deceive my co-workers, no I am not a boss either. But that is NO measure of lying, the other points I can see. -b

Davor Milicevic

Great article. It reminded me of so many affairs with President Clinton, Enron and others. Politics, they are not necessarily lying they are just not telling the truth and avoiding the real answer.

thomas Cornell

Is any of this research evidence admissible in a court of law? If not it isn't very good research. Has a single instance of lying in the 30,000 cases studied been reported to legal authorities?

Eric Schwarzrock

I like the reference to Jeff Skilling, although according to "The Smartest Guys in the Room" he was already hot tempered.

Caleb John

Wow, that is a AWESOME Post. I was reading a post on and this guy is powerful. they call him the Real Estate Drill Sergeant. I know kind of weird, but he is a real Iraqi War Vet and a Successful Real Estate Investor/ Entrepreneur. Anyway, I just want to tell you guys about a straight up Expert not NO SCAM ARTIST GURU. Again, check it out for yourself

Jacob Kelgard

What a great find and study. It's truly amazing how deceiving some people can be when they face reality. If given a position of authority, many people have the belief that they are above the law and can do as they wish.


Mr. Sutton,
What is this study telling us?
Do you think it is very good for development of a company if every employee knows their boss is lying especially when they are in a difficult situation?


or strategic, if your strategy is to lie.



Should number 5 say "less" rather than more? I don't have proper internet access at the mo so I can't read the paper to double check for my self, sorry, but when I heard about it elsewhere I thought they said "less" and it fits with the explanation better.

Bill Bennett

The business of swearing when lying goes hand-in-hand with something I've observed of asshole behaviour.

I've always viewed bad behaviour as a sign something else is bad - possibly incompetence or dishonesty. The occasional strategically placed swear word is no big deal, but when there's a lot of it going on, I see a smokescreen.

Johnnie Moore

What a fascinating find, thanks. BTW I think in point 5 where you say "more" I think you mean "less".


Immediately upon reading the title, I was reminded of the political joke I remember hearing too many years ago told of President Johnson (by, I believe, Mort Sahl) concerning the Vietnam War.

How do you tell when your boss is lying?

When he touches his ear, he telling the truth. When he strokes his chin, he is telling the truth. When he opens his mouth, he is lying.

Levity aside, there is a difference between lying and deceptive statements. I have on occasion resorted to making general true statements to avoid full disclosure of something that either 1) an employee did not have the privilege to know; or 2) to avoid speculative discussions about things that might happen because they were distracting to the tasks at hand.

Making a true general statement is not lying. It may be deceptive depending on the eye of the beholder. But, not all deception is unethical.

Given the recent attention ethics has been getting in business, it is good to see research on deception. But, I'd like to see more attention given to the basics of what is and isn't ethical. Everyone knows they shouldn't be abusive (maybe not everyone or your "No Asshole Rule" book wouldn't be necessary), but, in my experience, people often fail to recognize basic ethical grey areas, let alone how to resolve ethical dilemmas.

I'm a bit sensitive on this issue because when I did my MBA (only a few years ago), I pointedly asked the Professor who taught Organizational Behavior and Decision Making why we included no material on ethics. His response was that people have their ethical values formed before they get to Business School and that ethics was not appropriate for the curriculum. (This was something I didn't agree with and might explain why about a quarter of the class was caught up in a cheating scandal that was hushed up by the administration.)

Eric Riess

Kind of like swearing in emails at Goldman or in the office - thou ...'dost protest too much, methinks.'
If you need profanity to make a point your point must be pretty weak.

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