Interesting to watch: A Week Without Lying: The Honesty Experiment

A Week Without Lying: The Honesty Experiment

Is it possible to go a week without lying? Producers for the BBC’s Horizon programme wanted to find out and 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.

Amongst the specialists to monitor their anxiety, movement and speech patterns is Dr Sophie van der Zee, Assistant Professor of Erasmus School of Economics.  Sophie, who works together with Prof. Aurélien Baillon on his ERC Starting Grant on truthfulness since January 2018, is a legal psychologist and has a research background in deception and dishonest behaviour. She developed a cutting edge motion-based lie detection suit. With this suit, lies can be detected with 82% accuracy.

The Honesty Experiment

The team of experts from around Europe, including Sophie van der Zee, studied the subjects for a whole week, observing how often and why they lie, and challenged them to live without telling a single lie. Their aim was to discover how much we lie and the impact this has on our society and relationships. The results have caused scientists to rethink everything they thought about how and why we lie. During the week the scientists discovered that we all lie up to nine times a day, which is far more than any previous estimates,  and that taking away the ability to fib puts humans under extreme pressure, with all the subjects struggling to live completely honestly.

Sophie van der Zee: ‘I have learnt that we’re all so much more dishonest than we think we are.’ 

To watch the programme, tune in to BBC2 at 10PM (Dutch time) on 29 August.

More information

For an in-depth interview with Sophie van der Zee about this experiment, also listen to the Dutch NPO1 radio programme ‘Met het Oog op Morgen’ on Tuesday 28 August.

On Studio Erasmus you can also find another interview with Sophie van der Zee about her experiment, 20 September 2018.