MIC: Is it normal to lie about money, work or job skills? What data suggests about lying – and gender
Originally found at MIC, by Anita Hamilton
When you’re trying to land your dream job, it’s natural to try to talk yourself up to present yourself in the best light possible. Yet what might feel like a slight exaggeration — or a positive spin on the truth — to you could be seen by a hiring manager as a lie. Indeed, three out of four human resource managers say they’ve caught a resume lie, according to a 2017 CareerBuilder survey.
As it turns out, some data suggests there could be a gender divide in who lies: In a recent self-reported survey of 1,000 full-time workers by the online course site Udemy, men are three times more likely than women to tell falsehoods about their job skills and qualifications. A separate survey by online resume template company Hloom found that 24.4% of men said they’ve told a “white lie” on their resume, compared to 18.5% of women.
Millennials may also be more likely to lie on their resume, LinkedIn profile or job interview than other generations. While just 4% of baby boomers surveyed by Udemy said they did so, 24% of millennials admitted to telling whoppers.
The trouble with self-reported surveys, however, is that “people probably lie about lying,” said Anna Dreber Almenberg, an economics professor at the Stockholm School of Economics and lead author of a 2008 paper in the journal Economics Letters that found men are more likely than women to lie in order to secure a monetary benefit. People tend to underreport lies, Dreber Almenberg said, which means rates of lying in self-reported surveys are artificially low.
Why some people might lie more than others
Whether something is a lie can be subjective. For example, one person may see a job posting with 10 qualifications and believe he is qualified despite possessing only one. Another may see the same posting and consider herself unqualified because she has only six of the 10 skills.
Sometimes when people lie, they may believe it themselves to the point where they actually think it’s the truth and they’re numb to the fact they’ve been lying the whole time, even to themselves,” Vicki Salemi, a career expert at Monster, said in an email interview.
There’s evidence gender plays a role. “Men have the Dunning-Kruger effect where they think they are better than they are, whereas more women have the imposter syndrome, where they think they aren’t as good,” Carol Goman, a public speaker and author of the 2013 book The Truth About Lies in the Workplace, said. “If women fail, they tend to internalize the failure, and if men fail, they tend to externalize it.”
Studies in other contexts corroborate the gender divide: Some 55% of men versus 38% of women were willing to lie to impose a cost on someone else by overselling a deal as good for the other person when it really wasn’t, Dreber Almenberg’s peer-reviewed article in Economic Letters found.
Similarly, another study published in Management Science in 2011 concluded that women were “less likely to lie when it is costly to the other side.”
And when it comes to lying to the IRS to pay less in income taxes, 30% of men — but only 18% of women — said it was acceptable, according to one 2016 Harris Poll of 2,115 adults commissioned by NerdWallet, which also found men were more likely to lie to lower their car or life insurance rates.
“Women are socialized to please and to be liked,” said NerdWallet career expert Brianna McGurran. “Women are probably a little bit more afraid to get caught.”
When it comes to lying in general, “women exhibit greater propensities to tell the truth than their male counterparts,” according to a review of 63 academic studies published by the Journal of Economic Psychology in 2013. Specifically, “female subjects are significantly less likely to overreport the true value of a die roll, misrepresent a coin toss, engage in academic cheating, retain excessive change and overstate the number of correctly completed matrices.”
Still, the jury is out on whether men lie more than women for monetary benefit across the board.
In certain situations, men are more likely to misrepresent information or make false promises in negotiations with other men, according to a 2017 study in the Academy of Management Journal. But there were no differences between men and women in terms of lying to gain an economic edge, according to 2012 and 2013 studies published in Economic Letters.
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Read the original research in Academy of Management Journal
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