Sex, lies and damned statistics

The top ten 'lifetime lies' revealed
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The Independent Online

Age, alcohol consumption and the number of people we have slept are the most common lies told over the course of a lifetime - that's the verdict of a new poll which lifts the lid on the lies we are most likely to tell.

The national survey of 2,000 Brits was commissioned to mark the launch of new TV channel Really which launches on 19 May 2009. The survey uncovered the lies people tell over a lifetime as well as those told on a daily basis.

The findings reveal that age is the No1 lifetime lie - suggesting that Brits simply can't resist playing fast and loose with the statistics when it comes to telling people how old they are. 36 per cent admit that they have regularly lied about their age, citing reasons such as buying alcohol when below the legal age (68 per cent) and decreasing their age to qualify for discounts (31per cent). A fifth of the nation (21per cent) admitted that they regularly shave a few years off their real age to appear more attractive to the opposite sex.

The second most popular lifetime lie centres on the tricky issue of just how much alcohol people consume. Over a third (35 per cent) of the poll's respondents claim they have consistently lied about how much they drink on an average night out. Younger participants boast about their drinking prowess whilst the older generation is far more likely to play down the number of units consumed.

Sex makes an appearance at number three on the list with 34 per cent of Brits admitting that they regularly fib when it comes to their sexual history. 29 per cent of men admit they increase the number of notches on their bedpost to impress their friends, whilst 45 per cent of women claim they reduce the number to protect their moral integrity. Meanwhile, out of 36 per cent of respondents who admit to cheating on a partner, 56 per cent admit they don't confess their sin.

Appearances can often be deceptive, surprisingly 66 per cent of men admitted that they lie about their weight, compared with 29 per cent of their female counterparts. 21 per cent of men would even go so far as to lie about the size of their manhood. In total 33 per cent of respondents confessed that they lie about their appearance; with 74 per cent of women concealing their true hair colour and 30 per cent lying about their dress size.

Unexpectedly, the survey reveals that men are the biggest gossips, with 20 per cent admitting that they generally can't keep a big secret for more than one day compared with a mere 6 per cent of women. Both men and women are more likely to let secrets out if they are about other people but a lot depends on the sensationalist nature of the secret, with an affair being the most juicy (24 per cent). 19 per cent will tell all if it's a secret about someone else’s sex life but only 6 per cent will let the cat out of the bag if it’s a sex secret about themselves.

The results point to more gender differentials, suggesting that men are bigger liars than women when it comes to deceiving the authorities. A fifth of male Brits (24 per cent) confess that they would falsify an insurance claim compared with a mere 6 per cent of their female counterparts. Moreover, one in four men admit that they lie about holidays taken and exotic places visited to impress people, compared with a mere 7 per cent of the women surveyed. These results are echoed by the fact that 36 per cent of men exaggerate how much they get paid compared with 15 per cent of women.

When it comes down to who we are most likely to lie to; both men and women admit that they are most likely to stretch the truth with their colleagues (18 per cent). Women are more likely to lie to their partners (11 per cent) than their friends (8 per cent) and are more likely to lie to their children (9 per cent) than men (6 per cent)

The workplace also proves to be a haven for secrets and lies as 16 per cent of respondents admit they would let a secret about a colleague slip if it was to reinforce perceived opinions about someone, but 61 per cent they would be reluctant to disclose information if they thought they may get fired.

31 per cent of respondents admitted that they would lie about their job even if it was in a minor way just to impress someone and one in four (25 per cent) would falsify their job title. Making embellishments to a CV also proved popular with 27 per cent of respondents, while 12 per cent confessed they would even conceal a criminal record from a prospective employer.

Employers bear the brunt of most lies, with 9 per cent of respondents admitting that they are not always honest with their boss when it comes to why they are late for work. Transport problems (52 per cent), sickness (17 per cent) and family emergencies (12 per cent) are among the most common excuses. 23 per cent of Brits admit they will pull a sickie if they feel that they deserve a day off and 31 per cent won't go in if they are just too tired.

A nation of social conformists emerge from the poll as 24 per cent of those surveyed confessed that they often embellish their connections, 22 per cent of us exaggerate our wages, 20 per cent falsify our class backgrounds and 19 per cent have concealed an illness or past disease.

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