Friends may not be as well-read and far-travelled as you think

Travelling to New Zealand, enjoying sushi and reading War and Peace are among the most common fibs Britons tell to appear cultured, new research has found.

New Zealand is the top destination people lie about visiting to present themselves as more cultured
New Zealand is the top destination people lie about visiting to present themselves as more cultured

A nationwide study has revealed more than one in ten people in the UK have claimed they visited a place they have never been to, enjoyed a book they have never read or eaten food they secretly hate in a bid to seem more sophisticated than they actually are.

According to the survey, more than a fifth have fabricated trips abroad, with New Zealand, New York, Australia, Rome and Paris emerging as the most popular places people wished they had visited but hadn’t.

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Meanwhile, four in ten people polled have said they watched a film they have never seen and around one in five have overplayed their interest in politics in the hope of impressing peers.

A similar number have also tried to dupe family and friends into believing their musical tastes are more “cool” than they actually are.

Some people are strangers to the truth when it comes to the performing arts, embellishing their knowledge of plays, operas and cult films.

Pulp Fiction, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Citizen Kane are among the favourite films folk have invented seeing, while the most common fictitious theatre visits were to William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and Hamlet.

More than a sixth admitted to joining in discussions about famous literary works they have never read, while the books people most commonly lied about opening include Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, James Joyce’s Ulysses and JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Nearly a third of people like to make out they are “foodies”, suggesting they tuck in to oysters, quinoa, smelly cheese and sushi, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.

However, despite this tendency to exaggerate, most people do get a dose of culture.

The poll, for travel firm MSC Cruises, found the typical Briton reads 16 books, goes to the theatre four times and visits four places in a year. But a third said they would consider a foreign cruise in an effort to seem more worldly wise.

“We know that guests seek to visit new countries in order to broaden their horizons beyond the everyday,” said Antonio Paradiso, country manager for MSC Cruises UK.

“Visiting somewhere such as the Mediterranean or Caribbean on a cruise is a great way to visit different countries without having to unpack a suitcase and discover differing cultures, cuisines and traditions in a short amount of time, giving guests plenty of new stories and experiences to share with family and friends.”