Why We Lie: The Science Behind Our Deceptive Ways
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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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.
To navigate the world, we need to trust human communication implicitly, otherwise we would be paralyzed and cease to have social relationships. But we have to be aware of some facts:
However, we get so much from believing, that there is little harm when we occasionally get deceived.
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From a legal perspective, dishonesty is the idea of cost-benefit analysis. When people think about being dishonest, they wonder what can be gained or what can be lost. If the cost of lying is too h...
People often feel the need to rationalize their dishonesty. The danger is taking that first step.
The story of Joe Papp, an Olympic cyclist falls into this category. Papp consulted his physician, who wrote Papp a prescription for erythropoietin (EPO), a cancer treatment that increases the production of red blood cells. Papp injected himself, but also imported and distributed EPO to his team and to other teams. This essentially made him a drug dealer.
People that are required to put their signature at the top of a document instead of the bottom are more likely to provide truthful information.
They are confirming that the information they’re about to provide is true before they have a chance to falsify it.
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...
Where lying is concerned, we just can't seem to help ourselves.
We lie for two reasons: behavioral conditioning and cognitive evolutionary biology.
Lying keeps us hooked because we enjoy the reward. The outcomes are unpredictable.
Lying is reinforced every time we get away with it.
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 deception starts as early as six months of age such as fake crying or laughter. But people only start to get good at it after another four years where they learn to let go of the unbelievable lies and settle for what kind of lies work.