I'm attending some important research groups on Monday night... and feeling a little worried about them.
Why? Because people often lie.
In the polls, about 33% of people said they would vote Conservative. In last week's UK general election, about 37% did so. In other words, 4% of people simply lied.
Of course, some people think we lie.
The latest annual study conducted by research firm Roy Morgan into the perceived honesty of different professions has placed advertising in 29th place out of 30. Only car salesmen ranked lower.
I've written before about the irony that advertisers are perceived as dishonest, when the truth is that we don't lie to people, it's the people who lie to us.
The great strategist Russell Davies, on leaving advertising, famously described what he wouldn't miss: "Endless focus groups with company car drivers - constantly lying about why they drove the car they did."
He's so right. No one is going to admit in a research group that they drive a certain car because they want people to think they are rich, or successful, or sexy. But surely those motivations are in there.
And I'll never forget an interview that artists Jake and Dinos Chapman gave to GQ magazine. When shown examples of the brothers' work (similar to the picture above right) a selection of GQ readers unanimously claimed that they didn't like their art, because it was "ugly."
The Chapman brothers' response? "They're lying." The brothers reckoned that the real reason the GQ readers didn't like the art was because "they were turned on", and knew it would be socially unacceptable to say so.
Until neuromarketing research works properly, and we can actually see inside people's brains and discover what they are really thinking, rather than what they say they are thinking, we should continue to be suspicious of what people say. Very suspicious.