Did you know that 60 percent of people can’t go 10 minutes without lying? While this alone can’t prove that everyone lies, it’s still a huge percentage compared to the American population. A 2002 study that was conducted by the University of Massachusetts showed that the average person can’t have a conversation without lying at least once!
Now don’t be so quick to say that you are not included in that number as you might be even doing it without realizing it. This means that even the harmless ‘white lies’ that you are referring to often do make you a liar. Yes, you heard right: you are guilty as charged. Those little things that you lie about just to make yourself more likeable are also part of the art of deception…
Another study that investigated who we are telling our favorite stories and tales showed that your parents are the ones who are getting most lied to by 86 percent, then friends (75 percent), siblings (73 percent), and life partners (69 percent). These figures, however, refer to things that are not very important, including the lies that don’t have a great impact on the course of our lives or our relationship with others and which we often choose to regard as meaningless.
But how meaningless can they really be? And why do we do it, anyway?
What’s interesting is that we can’t think of living a life without lying. We are so used to doing that and being lied to that now it almost comes natural to us. Thus we end up playing the same game to which rules don’t completely agree with anyway.
In an attempt to answer why we choose not to tell the truth, I am just going to ask you these questions:
- Can you imagine living in a world where everybody could only tell the truth?
- Would you prefer to live a life like that?
- Would you be able to handle it?
- Are you 100 percent sure?
If you are not familiar with the movie The Invention of Lying, you should check it out as it provides an alternative reality that examines the ‘science of lying’ through the ability to lie to others and its benefits. Essentially, it presents a world where there is no such thing as lying and everything people say is the truth. This dose of sincerity turns out has a huge impact on people’s lives from the way they see themselves to their behavior and overall existence. All of this happens until one guy discovers the power of lying and decides to use it for his own benefit.
If you think this is something you might be interested in watching, here’s the movie trailer:
Overall, there are might be several reasons to why we tell lies. As a skill on its own, the act of lying is learnt and developed and the more we do it the better we get at it. So, here are some reasons as to why we often choose to hide the truth:
1. To fit in
We often lie about our skills or accomplishments to encourage others to regard highly of us and show us more respect. How many times have you exaggerated truth on your résumé to make yourself more desirable for potential employers? Or how many times have you admitted watching The Godfather when, in reality, you haven’t? In a way, this makes us more accepted by the wider public as it shows that we are part of a community and we don’t differ in any way.
2. To avoid punishment
The ability to lie in order to avoid facing punishment became known to us from as early as the age of two. Since then, we’ve come to master the act of lying and associated it with ‘the cover-up’ line we tell ourselves and to others that washes away our mistakes.
3. To avoid hurting someone else
Perhaps the most obvious reason why we lie is thinking that we can avoid hurting others. This is quite common in romantic relationships; however, it is not always the right way to end one. We tend to do it anyway, because we are afraid of the other person will no longer see us the way he or she used to, so we prefer not to take our chances.
4. To make things work for us
Lies have become necessary to fulfilling the purpose of manipulating others into making them do what they want. This is increasingly noticeable on people who work for professions that require persuading other people into taking action or buying a product such as politicians, salespeople, and marketing professionals.
To lie or not to lie; that is the question! Check out the following video by Thoughty2 which explains the psychology behind lying and provides some interesting views on why we lie:
See Also: Everybody Lies on Their CVs: Even CEOs
So, what about you? Would you prefer lying rather than telling the truth? Let us know in the comments section below.