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Is it possible to go a week without lying? Producers for the BBC’s Horizon programme wanted to find out and CREST Researchers Paul Taylor, Gordon Wright and Lynn Weiher have helped them.

We all lie up to nine times a day. It’s a fundamental part of being human. But is all this lying bad for us?

To find out, TV producers rigged three members of the public, a Priest, an Advertising Executive and a Youtuber, with revolutionary new portable lie detection equipment. This equipment, which monitors micro changes in body movement, speech patterns and stress levels, made it near impossible for them to lie undetected.

The participants were then challenged to go a whole week without being dishonest. CREST Researchers Professor Paul Taylor and Dr Gordon Wright were amongst specialists brought in to monitor their anxiety, movement and speech patterns with CREST Doctoral Researcher Lynn Weiher supporting their analysis.

One participant, The Reverend Ruth Newton – a Parish Priest from Leeds, was monitored at work in the church, meeting parishioners and in her private life.

It turns out we all have a less than perfect relationship with the truth, telling up to 9 lies a day. 80% of those were white lies, and the Vicar was no different, lying to brides, parishioners and her husband over the weeks experiment.

The findings revealed that we all lie far more than scientists thought. It also shows that lying is fundamental to our lives and society and that a world without lying would be a very dark place we wouldn’t want to live in.

To watch the programme, tune in to BBC2 at 9pm on August, 29th. You can also catch it afterwards on the BBC iPlayer. You can read more about Paul Gordon and Lynn’s research on our website, as well as our programme of research on detecting deception.

A Week Without Lying: The Honesty Experiment

Horizon special – BBC2 9pm, August 29th (and afterwards on the BBC iPlayer)

Producer/Director Vicki Cooper Executive Producer Jay Taylor

A Thoroughly Modern Media production for BBC