A new study on truthfulness involving several countries finds the Chinese to be the most dishonest, and the British the least.
A researcher from the University of East Anglia recruited over 1,500 people from 15 countries in an online survey involving two experiments to measure honesty in order to determine whether the trait varied between countries.
The author of the study, Dr David Hugh-Jones, studied countries that varied in regions, development levels and social trust levels - Brazil, China, Greece, Japan, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, the US, Argentina, Denmark, the UK, India, Portugal, South Africa, and South Korea.
Participants in the first experiment were asked to flip a coin and report whether it had landed on ''heads'' or ''tails.''
They were told that their coin landing on heads would net them a $3 or $5 reward and if the number of people in any given country reporting heads was more than 50 per cent, dishonesty was indicated.
The percentage of people from China who lied about the coin was 70 per cent, while the corresponding figures for British participants were 3.4.
In Asia, the four least truthful countries after China were Japan, South Korea and India.
According to the researchers Asian countries were not significantly more dishonest than others in the quiz, where Japan had the lowest level of dishonesty.
Dr Hugh-Jones, lead study author, said the difference between Asian and other countries in the coin flip might he explained on the basis of cultural views specific to this type of test, such as attitudes to gambling, rather than differences in honesty as such.
The findings also suggested honesty was less important to a country's current economic growth than during earlier periods in history.
What came as a surprise was that people were more pessimistic about the honesty of people in their own country than of people in other countries.
''One explanation for this could be that people are more exposed to news stories about dishonesty taking place in their own country than in others,'' Dr Hugh-Jones said.
According to him, there was increasing interest in the cultural and behavioural roots of economic development.