Why Do We Lie?


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Lying. Something that everyone can say they have had an experience with. Lying usually just gets you in trouble or makes you feel guilty. So why do we do it?

There is no exact answer as to why we lie. Reasons why we lie are psychological and include protecting ourselves, trying to look "cool", trying to save someone's feelings, or to avoid punishment. 

Studies have been conducted and there are assumed reasons as to why people lie, but no definite answer. Robert Feldman, a psychologist from the University of Massachusetts, suggests lies occur when people become self-conscious.  Feldman experimented with a group of people and learned that 60% of them lied once during a 10- minute conversation. When you think about that, it is almost scary. Everyone at least has one conversation with someone everyday. How do we know if they are lying, but we just do not know it?

Shaul Shalvi of the University of Amsterdam and Ori Eldar and Yoella Bereby-Meyer of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev also did a study on why people lie. They formed two hypothesizes about why people lie. The first is that people lie because it could be beneficial financially to them. The second hypothesis is "when people are not under time pressure, they are unlikely to lie if there is no opportunity to rationalize their behavior." (2012, Association for Psychological Science). The researchers preformed a single blind experiment at first where the experimenters could not see the die. They gathered 70 adults to roll a die three times and to report the highest roll. The higher the roll, the more money they earned. Some participants were asked to answer within 20 seconds and others were not timed. The second experiment, the participants only had one chance to roll the dice. After the results were in, Shalvi came to the conclusion that both groups lied but the group that lied the most were the ones pressured under time. The conclusion made from this experiment was that people lie more under time pressure. If there is no time pressure, people lie when they have justification to do so.

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 11.08.29 PM.pngSo what is your reason to lie? Cracking under pressure? Trying to make yourself better? Or just scared of the truth? 

5 Comments

I can say pretty confidentially that everyone has been either lied or been lied to. I agree that it is a pretty sad realization that we feel this ongoing need to not be who we really are. I know I feel like that during different times throughout my day. It would be a lot easier and make the world a lot better place if everyone could be more honest, especially concerning people in high up positions in the world. Its interesting that scientific studies were actually done about lying. Here's a link on some statistics on adults lying if you wanna look further into it: http://www.statisticbrain.com/lying-statistics/

I immediately came into this article thinking that I would comment something along the lines of, "We lie because it benefits us." To think that it might have to do with being self-conscious comes as something of a surprise. To think that we don't know much at all about the reasons behind lying comes as an even greater surprise. Insincerity seems like such a common thing that to not know the complete science behind it is shocking, in a way. Did you know that we scientists still can't pinpoint why ice is slippery (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/21/science/21ice.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0), or even why human beings sleep? There are theories, admittedly, but nothing concrete. I guess there is still a lot we don't know, but that's just half the fun, I think.

This is such an interesting post and to think that we probably all have actually done it. It is a scary fact as you never know if you can trust in what someone is saying, but from experience it seems people don't tend to lie about key facts. I feel that the self-conscious lying makes sense as people want to seem better than they are, especially to those they don't know. People also want to avoid embarrassment or are put under that pressure where they become unsure of what to say.

In nature, animals are wired to deceive each other, so does that imply it comes naturally to humans too? I found this article, http://www.livescience.com/772-lie.html, speaking more on Feldman and research into the reasons we do lie. It is a very interesting topic and something I would actually like to look into more.

If I received a dollar for every time a person in this world lied I'd be the richest woman on earth! Lying just comes naturally sometimes. We learn from a young age the method of lying when our parents ask did we write on the wall, we probably said no to refrain from getting that "talk". Lying sometimes even help with enhancing a conversation. I just finished discussing this topic with someone and I had to explain to them that I lie to spare their feelings, as most of us do when people close to us ask a question and we already know what answer they want to hear. Imagine a world where absolutely no one lied, we'd probably all be lonely with no friends to talk too. I found this article that explains in more details as to why we lie http://mentalfloss.com/article/50656/why-do-we-lie

Lies are apart of our everyday life, no matter how annoying a thing it can be. I do feel the self-conscious lies are probably the most prevalent especially around newer people or people one is trying to get them to like. This is kind of sad though because those people or that person aren't getting a good idea of who you actually are. I feel the white lies that are used to spare ones feelings are the only lies that some good can be seen in them. There is nothing wrong with making someone feel better about themselves or make them more confident. However, the scary thing are the big lies. Lies that come to money or other important things. The people that lie about these are a different kind of breed then ones that tell the white lies. However, there are many techniques one can use to determine if someone is lying (these are not fail proof). Some of these are facial expressions, body language tics, and verbal responses. The article I posted below can help one become better at detecting a damn dirty liar
http://www.wikihow.com/Detect-Lies

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