Trust and vulnerability - Deepstash

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Why We Lie: The Science Behind Our Deceptive Ways

Trust and vulnerability

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:

  • We don't expect lies and are not continually searching for lies, giving liars an advantage.
  • We are more prone to falsehoods from people of wealth, power, and status.
  • We are very prone to accepting lies that affirm our worldview.
  • People are more likely to believe familiar information. Even if the information turns out to be false, we may continue to lean towards it.

However, we get so much from believing, that there is little harm when we occasionally get deceived.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

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.

The prevalent theory of dishonesty

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...

The slippery slope

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.

Morals or ethics tilt behaviors

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.