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The Consequences of Dishonesty | SPSP

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. 

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The Consequences of Dishonesty | SPSP

The Consequences of Dishonesty | SPSP

http://www.spsp.org/news-center/blog/the-consequences-of-dishonesty

spsp.org

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Key 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 prosocial lies are often viewed as more trustworthy and more moral than are people who tell harsh truths. However, not all prosocial lying driven by compassion yields benefits. People who receive overly positive feedback about their abilities are susceptible to thinking they will succeed in enterprises with very low chances of success and may therefore launch ill-advised ventures.

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. 

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

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.

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.
  • Researchers found that people lie on ave...
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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Narcissists are often pathological liars

Narcissists lack empathy, so telling the truth does not matter to them. They may not even realize they are lying most of the time, because they are not aware of it.

Don't ma...

Compulsive liars are not necessarily bad people

Compulsive liars are often too careless to tell the truth. They don't take the time to think things through.

Although it is really hard to break this habit, they need to learn to control their urge to lie.  

Types of lies
Types of lies
  • White Lies. People tell white lies claiming to be tactful or polite.
  • Broken Promises. Failure to keep one’s spoken commitment or promise.
  • The Lie of ...
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.

Philosophy and truth

We think philosophy has a role to play in identifying and correcting the disconnect between perception and reality with regard to politicians’ trustworthiness. By providing a theory of lying and tr...

Augustine on lying

Augustine (354-430) was one of the first to define a lie explicitly as the intent to deceive.

Augustine argues that lying is not permissible regardless of the circumstances that provoked the lie.

Kant on lying

Kant defines a lie as an “intentionally untruthful declaration”.

Kant identifies truthfulness as an utterance that accurately represents one’s thoughts (including one’s beliefs), regardless of whether those thoughts are themselves accurate.
Kant argues that lying is not permissible, but he allows for engaging in deception through careful word choice or evasion.

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Daily choices
Each day, we make the same choice hundreds of times: whether to lie or tell the truth.

And we ignore the profound impact these seemingly inconsequential decisions have on our brain and our life.

Little Lies Can Cost You Money

[Researches Argo and Shiv] found that 85% of diners in restaurants admitted to telling white lies when their dining experiences were unsatisfactory (i.e., claiming all was well when it wasn't). The real interesting finding was that diners who told white lies to cover up their dissatisfactions were then likely to leave bigger tips than those who did not. 

Lies Tax Your Brain, Cause Stress and Harm Your Body

Consider the polygraph machine. It doesn't actually detect lies, specifically, but rather the signs of stress that accompany telling them. 

According to a study, those who were instructed on how to lie less reported improvements in their relationships, less trouble sleeping, less tension, fewer headaches, and fewer sore throats.

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The central thesis of Sam Harris's book, Lying (2013)
You should not lie. 

Harris implies throughout his essay that truth and honesty should prevail in all instances of human interaction,including those who employ ‘white lies’ to protect pe...

The consequence of lying

To lie is to sacrifice your integrity, and to place the possibility of deep and meaningful bonds with fellow humans at risk.

Two types of lies
  • Lies of commission. The liar is active in his or her attempt to deceive.
    Example: A job applicant falsifying his credentials in an effort to land a desired position.
  • Lies of omission. This is a passive act, involving a person’s failure to do something.
    Example: A job applicant is neglecting to list on his resume the job from which he was fired.

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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.

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. 

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 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. 

One of the reasons why Stoicism is enjoying a revival today is that it gives concrete answers to moral questions.
Aristotle gave us an alternative conception of happiness

It cannot be acquired by pleasurable experiences but only by identifying and realizing our own potential, moral and creative, in our specific environments, with our particular family, friends and colleagues, and helping others to do so.