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Why Do We Lie?

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https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-dolphin-divide/201309/why-do-we-lie

psychologytoday.com

Why Do We Lie?
We say it's wrong. We use euphemistic terms like "white lie" or "fibbing" to ease our guilt. We superstitiously cross our fingers behind our backs, as if to somehow suspend the rules and judge ourselves on the right side of communicative fair play. And, oh, the tangled webs we weave when first we practice to deceive.

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Our reasons for lying

Where lying is concerned, we just can't seem to help ourselves. 

We lie for two reasons: behavioral conditioning and cognitive evolutionary biology.

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Behavioral conditioning

Lying keeps us hooked because we enjoy the reward. The outcomes are unpredictable.
Lying is reinforced every time we get away with it. 

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Cognitive evolutionary biology

Lying is a valuable tool in our survival kit. We can spare someone's feelings or build social standing. Lying can keep us out of trouble or even save our lives.

Practicing d...

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To lie is human

To lie is human
  • Lying is something that most people are very practiced in. We lie in big and small ways, to strangers, co-workers, friends, and loved ones.
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Lying increases with maturity

The increase in lying is driven by the development of the ability to see the world from someone else's perspective. We gain an understanding of the beliefs, intentions, and knowledge of others.

The more we lie, the easier it becomes. Among two-year-olds, only 30 percent are untruthful. Among three-year-olds, 50 percent lie. By eight, kids learn to mask their lying by deliberately giving a wrong answer or making their statement seem like a guess.

Why we limit our lies

We like to see ourselves as honest because we have internalized honesty as a value taught to us. We generally place limits on how much we are willing to lie.

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Lies Motivated By Compassion

When we decide to lie, we privilege some other value over honesty. The value is often compassion, as people lie more about their feelings than about anything else. 

Those who tell...

Lies Motivated By Desire for Material Gain

When a desire for material gain motivates lying, the consequences are likely to be negative. 
One factor that prevents people from lying for personal gain is the need/desire to see oneself as a moral person. 

Desire to Maintain a Positive Self-Concept

  • People sometimes lie to themselves or others out of a need to see themselves positively. 
  • People often experience greater positive emotions when exaggerating their intelligence or skill to themselves or others.
  • Liars driven by the desire to see themselves positively can forget that their dishonesty contributed to their success. Consequently, they may make misguided bets about their future performance. 

Body Language

Body Language

While body language cues can offer clues to deceptions, it is often not good enough. More accurate signals are:

  • Intentionally leaving out important details.
  • If the p...

Ask Them to Tell Their Story in Reverse

The passive process of observing a potential liar's body language and facial expressions to spot lies is limited.

Adopt a more active approach by asking the individual to relate their story in reverse order rather than chronological order.

Trust Your Instincts

People often rely on stereotypical behaviors that are often associated with lying such as fidgeting or shifty eyes. But these signs are simply old wives' tales.

Your first gut reactions might be more accurate than any conscious lie detection you might attempt.