Why Do People Lie So Much?
We live in a society where lying is more commonplace than not. There are all kinds of reasons why people lie. Some people lie to protect themselves or people they care about. Others lie to avoid looking silly, inept, guilty or irresponsible. There are people who even lie for no apparent reason at all – it’s simply become a part of their lifestyle. People who habitually lie get to the point where they consider their deviations just another version of the truth.
Telling the truth – the whole truth – has become a lost art today. People have become quite satisfied with “white lies” that fit well within their comfort zone. Parents who fall into the trap of altering the truth too often will soon find their kids following in their footsteps. The dangers of lying are obvious. Yet people continue to avoid being completely honest with others.
Why Do People Lie So Much?
On a recent TED Talk, Pamela Meyer, author of the book Liespotting, was noted as saying, “On any given day, people are lied to from 10-200 times.” That’s quite a few lies. If her research is true, we are rapidly becoming a generation of liars. Unfortunately, lying is not contained to only one particular group or setting. Couples lie in their relationships, parents lie to their kids at home, children and teens lie to their teachers at school and employees/business owners often lie to other another at work.
By definition, lying occurs when people don’t tell the whole truth. Altering the facts, even in small ways, or holding back part of the truth, is considered lying. Even if most of what you say is truthful, but you add or omit tiny details to avoid altercations or hassles, you’re still lying.
Kids are notorious for telling partial truths in order to escape discipline or punishment. A husband may tell his wife what he thinks she wants to hear. Business owners often “recreate” the truth by expounding on the good aspects of their company and holding back information that may be detrimental to their cause. Even “little white lies” distort the truth, painting a totally different picture of what’s real.
Here are four common ways in which people lie:
Making Subtle Changes to the Truth
When talking about a certain situation or person, some people have the tendency to make subtle changes in their story to make them look better or hide a truth they don’t want others to know. These deviations from the truth can influence other people’s attitudes and responses in their favor. People gear their responses to what they are told. By shading the truth, you can control a person’s reaction and cause them to believe a false reality.
Omitting Facts or Details
One of the easiest ways to lie is to omit facts or details from your story. If you have a friend who’s sensitive, you may choose to omit some aspect of the truth to spare his or her feelings. People also avoid telling the whole truth when they have something to hide. Regardless of the reason, leaving out facts or details is deceptive. You would do much better to be open and honest in your communications to build a relationship of trust.
People exaggerate to exalt their self-image or earn others’ approval. In the process, they misrepresent themselves to others. When the truth is uncovered, it makes them look like a fraud. Teens often try to prove themselves by exaggerating about their abilities and skills. When their actions fail to live up to their words, they can easily lose the respect of their peers. Exaggerating is the same as lying, making you appear dishonest and untrustworthy.
Gossiping has grown to epidemic proportions in society today. It’s rampant in the home, work and social environment. Gossiping is saying negative or untrue things about others behind their back. When confronted, gossipers usually deny their actions, further building on their original lie. Gossiping can hurt personal relationships and destroy a person’s reputation. Many young people have been devastated due to gossip about them on social media sites. The Internet has made it extremely easy for people’s reputation to be destroyed by the spreading of lies.
Why Do People Lie in Relationships?
There are various reasons why people lie in relationships; however, none can really be justified in the long run. Some people lie to cover up wrong doing. A husband who is cheating on his wife may lie to avoid being caught. Wives who spend too much money may lie to their husbands to avoid financial conflicts. Couples may tell little white lies to each other to be polite. A girl with a jealous boyfriend may lie to protect herself from his overreacting to her going out with friends.
Whether you’re trying to spare someone’s feelings, covering up a misdeed or trying to protect yourself from harm, lying will only make matters worse. Open, honest communication is the best way to resolve relationship problems and clear up misunderstandings that may arise. Honesty may not be the easiest path to take, but it will be the most rewarding long term.
Why Do People Lie Compulsively?
Compulsive liars simply cannot tell the whole truth, regardless of the circumstances or situation they find themselves in. They are so used to deviating from the truth that their first and foremost reaction to situations is to lie. Some compulsive liars seem to lie for no reason. More often than not, however, they resort to “little white lies” to benefit them in some way.
According to Dr. David L. Smith, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of New England, the inclination to lie is “a very natural human trait.” Through lying, people can create the image they want others to perceive of them. In other words, people lie more often to help themselves in some way rather than to hurt others.
Here are six common reasons why people lie and the dangers of each:
1. To save face or cover up for their mistakes: People often resort to lying to cover up mistakes and preserve their self-esteem. This lack of honesty makes it difficult to build solid friendships or relationships. By choosing to be truthful, you can avoid the tangled weave of deception that lying breeds.
2. To Dodge the Blame: Everyone makes mistakes; however, people are more likely to pass the buck and blame others rather than accept the responsibility for their mistakes. Consistent lying to avoid blame will cause resentments that can destroy personal or professional relationships.
3. To Avoid Confrontations: No one likes a confrontation, but lying to avoid conflicts only makes matters worse. Honesty is essential to building personal and professional relationships.
People may not always agree with each other, but they should be honest in communicating their opinions and points of view.
4. For Personal Gain: It’s quite common for people to lie to get their own way. An employee who wants the day off may call in sick when he or she is not. Teens may lie to get out of doing a homework assignment. A child may lie about breaking a window to escape punishment. Lying may get you what you initially want but it will also lose you the confidence and trust of those you lie to.
5. To Be Polite: Lying to be polite or nice to someone is still lying. Those little white lies may be altruistic, but they don’t make for honest interactions. After a while, people may begin to doubt your sincerity or honesty. It’s much better to stick to the truth as much as possible when complimenting or encouraging others.
6. To Build Self-Esteem: People may lie to themselves in order to boost their self esteem. Self-deception, however, has a way of turning against you. Young couples may justify buying that fancy sports car because they have years to repay the debt. However, if one or both lose their job, their self-deception can put them in hot water. A new mother may justify being overweight because she just had a baby. But if she’s not careful, she could develop an obesity problem. By making goals and planning ahead for accomplishing those goals, people can avoid the self-deception trap and feel great about their future.
People who value their integrity will make every effort to be honest in their interactions with others. Honesty may be difficult to accept, but it engenders respect and trust, two essential ingredients for positive interactions.