Generation Ys telling a pack of lies

SAM BOYER
Last updated 05:00 22/11/2012

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Cheating on partners, lying to friends and stealing from work - it sounds like a bad rap sheet, but it has become the norm for Kiwis under 30.

What's more, most of them seem to think their behaviour is acceptable.

A Colmar Brunton study has found the level of dishonesty among young New Zealanders "shockingly high".

Spencer Willis, who led the survey, said it was worrying that people deemed their actions to be OK.

"The most worrying thing is that it is deemed acceptable, with 87 per cent of [the 441] survey participants saying they are satisfied with their personal ethics and character."

More than half of those surveyed admitted having cheated in high school homework and exams, and 21 per cent said they had cheated on a partner.

For 18-to-21-year-olds, 11 per cent of men admitted cheating on their partners, and 27 per cent of women did so.

Liars and thieves were just as prolific. Nearly two-thirds of people confirmed they had stolen, half of whom had taken items from shops.

Almost half those surveyed said they had lied within the past month, with most fibs told to friends (60 per cent), parents (36 per cent) and partners (17 per cent).

Eleven per cent had lied to their boss, and more than half said lying to take a sick day was "sometimes OK".

Ten per cent added that it was also "sometimes OK" to lie on a resume or CV.

Victoria University psychologist Marc Wilson said the statistics might not be as bad as they appeared.

"People routinely tell untruths. In fact, it has been suggested that, in large representative samples, so many people admit to regularly fibbing that those who say they never tell a lie are, well, lying.

"We're also likely to kid ourselves that when we tell lies it's going to be justifiable.

"The reality is that we tell lies for a host of reasons, but generally there is a reason - either to get goodies or positive outcomes for ourselves, but also to facilitate our relationships with others.

"Many untruths provide the lubricant that keeps relationships going."

Mr Willis said the majority of respondents thought they were better than average at "doing right".

"There appears to be a wide gap between the way people see themselves and the way they view society."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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