At the age of four, we learn how to lie. By the time we have reached adulthood, close to nine percent of us “overestimated” expenses to receive a better tax return. Additionally, new research from UBS shows that – over the past two years – close to 3 in 4 Australians lied on their home loan application, in order to secure a mortgage.
It’s hard to believe, but Australians everywhere are pretty good at ‘fibbing’. Does that mean we’re all a bunch of liars?
Not necessarily: you need only look to the 74% of Aussies who have never lied on the income tax return to gain a little faith in your fellow citizens. Or, take a look at the stand-up Aussies who – given the opportunity – refused to take money that didn’t belong to them, and went out of their way to return it.
We’re committed to having Australians’ backs, but we are curious to find out how many others stand side by side with us on the matter. In short: just how honest are our fellow Aussies?
More than half of surveyed Australians trust one another
Regular Australians may tell a fib now and again, but we believe their intention is to be honest (most of the time). We’d like to back up this claim that Aussies are both trusting and truth-telling.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics conducted a General Social Survey in 2014. It asked survey respondents if they feel that most people can be trusted. In response, 53% believed they could, while 15% neither agreed nor disagreed. This means more than two-thirds of surveyed Aussies are open to the idea of trusting their fellow countrymen and women.
One reason for these results is our trustworthiness in others coming from an expectation to be civil.
“We as humans are torn between the temptation to cheat on the one hand and the desire to maintain the self-image of ourselves as being honest persons,” says Dr Sven Brodmerkel, Assistant Professor for Advertising and Integrated Marketing Communications at Bond University.
He elaborates on this point by explaining that our moral standards are greatly influenced by what we observe from others
“If, for example, certain behaviours like online piracy appear to be ‘the norm’, people have little problem justifying their own behaviour.”
Which professions are most honest?
Honesty and integrity are widely regarded as important values to hold. You probably won’t be surprised to hear, however, that we tend to view certain individuals with certain occupations in a certain light.
Who among us are the most trustworthy? Is it Prime Ministers? CEO’s? Actually, public servants and health care workers tend to be the most highly regarded, according to research from Roy Morgan published earlier this year.
Police, High Court and State Supreme Court judges, and university lecturers followed each of the six frontrunners. So, we trust those professions in charge of safeguarding our health, our children’s education, the buildings we stand in, and our liberty.
How can we be more honest with one another?
Most of us – indeed, 56% of Australians, according to the Governance Institute’s Ethics Index – have faced an ethical dilemma in the past. According to this study,
- family matters were the most difficult to deal with (42% agreed),
- work-related matters were close behind (30%), and
- financial matters were the least difficult (21%).
We’re eager to help you deal with these dilemmas, so we’ve pinpointed where problems begin and how to change dishonest habits.
Holding up a mirror
A lot of the hard truths we need to face in life relate to our own shortcomings. One doctor reported to Wellbeing.com.au that the more you lie to yourself, the more you distort your memory of the past.
And the more you rewrite history, the less you can learn from it.
Children develop their moral compass from parents. The more common reasons that kids (and even adults) lie usually relate to fear. We have a fear of
- upsetting each other,
- doing something we don’t want to do,
- not fitting in,
- being ignored, and
- being boring.
If we ensure our families are heard, appreciated, and practise honesty with one another, then stronger ties can be formed.
According to Dr Brodmerkel, trust is won through honesty.
“…For example, members of one ‘tribe’ (students at one particular university) became more honest and cheated less when they observed a member of an ‘out-group’ (a student from a rival university) cheating at the same task.”
Essentially, we keep each other honest because we want to share the same values.
The moral here is that simply by engaging in an open dialogue, we’ll slowly influence others to follow our example. Most of us understand what is right and wrong, but too often choose to ignore it for something that’s easy instead.
Instead of tip-toeing around problems at work, try to join together to work them out. If you’re sitting and stressing about a task you cannot finish, raise your hand for help. Given that your co-workers spend so much time with you, it’s highly unlikely they want to see you fail.
Why be honest?
Did you know that truthful individuals are more likely to be happy, more easily befriend others, and exhibit increased productivity among co-workers? Isn’t that what we all want in our lives? Additionally, lying is more taxing to the human brain than telling the truth, according to Lifehacker. Lying can be detrimental to your health due to the stress and anxiety it causes, while the truth comes at no such expense.
Our aim is to be as honest with you as you are with us. Why? Because comparethemarket.com.au has your back; we even made a video to explain how.