The Phenomenology of Lying in Young Adults and Relationships with Personality and Cognition

  • Jon E. GrantEmail author
  • Helen A. Paglia
  • Samuel R. Chamberlain
Original Paper


Despite research suggesting that lying may be a normal aspect of development and a fairly frequent occurrence in many adults, surprisingly little is known about its phenomenology and possible associations with relevant personality traits and cognitive functions. University students were invited to participate in an online study, which included a 91-item questionnaire and four neurocognitive tasks (selected to focus on frontal lobe function). The survey included questions about frequency of lying and reasons for doing so, mental health history, personality traits, religiosity, and insight into lying. Those who lied daily (“Daily Liars”) were compared to those who lied less frequently (“Non-Daily Liars”). 18.1% of the sample reported lying every day. Daily Liars showed worse grade point averages, quality of life, and self-esteem. Daily Lying was associated with negative functional impact on school, social, and family/home domains. We did not find evidence that is was associated with frontal lobe dysfunction on the cognitive tasks examined.


Lying Impulsivity Personality 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest

Dr. Grant has received research grants from NIAAA, AFSP, TLC Foundation, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Grant receives yearly compensation from Springer Publishing for acting as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Gambling Studies and has received royalties from Oxford University Press, American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc., Norton Press, and McGraw Hill. Dr. Chamberlain’s research is supported by a Wellcome Trust Clinical Fellowship to Dr. Chamberlain (110,049/Z/15/Z). Dr. Chamberlain consults for Cambridge Cognition, Shire, and Promentis. Ms. Paglia has no potential conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jon E. Grant
    • 1
    Email author
  • Helen A. Paglia
    • 1
  • Samuel R. Chamberlain
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral NeuroscienceUniversity of Chicago, Pritzker School of MedicineChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  3. 3.Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT)CambridgeUK

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