Why Do People Lie Essay: A lie can be defined as an act of dishonesty or misrepresentation in which a person who makes a statement to another person conceals, misrepresents, or distorts the truth with the goal of creating false belief in that other person. The things that are being lied about may or may not be true, but are generally things that are private or personal. The act of lying has been around ever since the evolution of human language and speech.
The consequences of lying to someone can depend on the circumstances. For example, if a person lies in order to avoid being hurt, they may have a different set of consequences than if they lied to obtain money from somebody else. There are a few theories that explain why we lie and how we can create agreements that make people more honest. We will look at these theories and discuss the impacts of each in this essay.
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Reasons People Lie – 6 Major Influencing Factors
People lie for many reasons. Some of the most common are to protect themselves, their image, or to be polite. In a survey, researchers found that the top motivation for lying is to avoid hurting the other person’s feelings. This is because people want to appear likable and trustworthy. They want to avoid being judged because (most) people are insecure about themselves.
Other reasons that make people lie are as follows:
- To avoid punishment: People may lie as they might be afraid of the consequences of the truth. Alternatively, they may also lie in order to make themselves look better in the eyes of others. An example of this is a child not revealing the marks of their exam to their parents.
- People will often lie in order to get a reward: There are so many different studies that show how people might lie for materialistic rewards such as money, but the same thing goes for social rewards. People might go out of their way to please others or create a better image of themselves.
- People lie to protect another person from being punished: People are often willing to lie to protect their friends and other loved ones. This is because they believe that the truth will result in them being punished, which can be an unpleasant experience for those involved.
- People lie to win the admiration of others: Humans are social animals. We crave admiration from others because it makes us feel better about ourselves. Our brains have evolved to want to be liked, so we will often do things that will give other people a more positive opinion of us, even if it means lying.
- People lie to get out of an awkward social situation: It turns out that people do this more often than they think. In a survey from the University of Massachusetts, it was found that 74% of participants admitted to telling a lie in order to escape from an uncomfortable situation.
- People lie to avoid embarrassment: It is an unfortunate truth, but it’s hard to hide the truth when you’re confronted with it. For example, people will often lie when they are asked if they have read the book they are supposed to review.
What is the Psychology Behind Lying?
Lying is something that most people do at some point in their lives. We all know that lying is wrong, but the psychology behind it is a complex topic. According to research, there are five reasons why somebody might lie: to avoid punishment, to avoid hurt feelings, for self-esteem enhancement, for personal gain, and out of habit. Interestingly, the psychology behind lying is not black and white, but revolves around a “grey” area. Another aspect of lies is that it has a snowball effect – that is, the more you lie, the more excuses you have to make up. And the more you make up, the bigger your lies become. Even a little white lie can eventually snowball into many lies, making it harder to keep a track of the lies. However, there are some ethical aspects to lying. For instance, a child who is home alone might lie to a stranger that his parents are at home and are sleeping. This might dissuade the stranger to continue interacting with the child.
Spotting A Liar – A Technique to Detect a Liar
Most of us have stereotypical views about a liar’s behaviour – such as stuttering, avoiding eye contact and fidgeting. However, these signs are not reliable and can also mislead people. So how does one identify a liar? The answer is – it is not quite easy to spot a liar, and it becomes especially difficult if the person in question is a chronic liar. However, there are a few ways to identify if someone is lying. Moreover, you will have to pay attention and also have a keen eye to spot a liar as the tell-tale signs of lying are very subtle and easy to miss.
- Start by asking neutral questions to establish a baseline: Start by asking neutral questions. These questions could pertain to the weather, plans for the day or anything else that would elicit a normal and calm reply. Then, when the individual replies to your questions, watch their reactions, tone of voice, pitch, eye movement and other details. This forms the baseline. If needed, ask more neutral questions to form a clear and solid baseline.
- Move on to questions where lies are to be expected: Once a baseline has been established, start asking questions where the individual is expected to lie. Watch their responses, observe any changes – such as a change in facial expressions, voice pitch, eye movement, body language and more. Hence, having a strong baseline is important .
- Observe the body language and facial expressions: Though the person may lie, the human body can’t. The body’s response to stress manifests itself in the form of tell-tale physical signs. However, it may be too subtle to observe and easy to miss if you do not have a keen eye. Other times, a liar may exhibit a nervous tick such as fidgeting, acting restless or tapping their fingers.
- Listen to tone and cadence: When a person is lying, their tone of voice and pitch changes, though it might be very subtle. Research has shown that their pitch increases when actively telling a lie. Moreover, they may also start speaking slowly or rapidly when telling a lie. Having a strong baseline observation can help make these changes more apparent.
- Observe when they stop talking about themselves: Individuals who are lying might use fewer “me” and “I” in their sentences. This is because they might want to psychologically distance themselves from the lie that they fabricated.
Please note, this technique might not apply to everyone, because each individual may react differently when lying.
Confessing the Truth
Getting someone to tell the truth can be a difficult task. It requires patience and an understanding of human psychology. Below are the most effective techniques for getting someone to tell the truth:
- Ask an open ended question, rather than a yes or no question: Open ended questions are also known as ‘complex’ or ‘elaborated’ questions. They’re easy to answer, but they require thought, and can even cause someone to reveal more about themselves than they intended.
- Pause and wait for a response: When you’re talking with someone who is lying, it’s important to know if their response is truthful. Adding a pause and waiting for a response can help you spot the truth in someone’s story.
- Use what you know about the person to make them feel comfortable: The best way to make someone feel comfortable is through small talk. Ask them about their day, work or hobbies. Doing so can help build rapport and the person might be less inclined to fabricate lies with you.
- Keep your tone of voice even and neutral: One of the most important things to do is to avoid using any type of emotion in your voice. For instance, if you sound disappointed, angry, or sad, the liar will pick up on that and may get defensive and start lying more.
- Offer empathy: Lying is often a way to avoid conflict and maintain relationships. Occasionally, people lie because they feel they are not appreciated or respected. It can be challenging to offer empathy when someone lies in order to avoid conflict.
- Show how telling the truth will be beneficial: It can be seen as a sign of maturity and honesty. If people believe that they are telling the truth, it could make them seem more trustworthy and less suspicious. Telling the truth also helps to maintain a healthy relationship with that person or with friends and family. Honesty is always the best policy!
Conclusion on Why Do People Lie Essay
Some people lie because they are afraid of the consequences. For example, being caught by parents for misdeeds, or being punished for not doing chores. The most common reason why people lie is to avoid hurting others’ feelings. Regardless, a lie, in most cases, can be detrimental to the liar as they will have to fabricate more lies in order to cover their initial lie. Hence, it is always better to tell the truth.
FAQ’s on Why People Lie
What is a lie?
A lie is defined as an intentional act to mislead or deceive another. A liar is someone who says something that they know to be untrue.
What is a white lie? How is it harmful?
“White lies” are simply lies told with the intent to spare someone’s feelings. However, these lies can be harmful because they can steer someone in the wrong direction or into a plan that is not well thought out.
What are the reasons that make people lie?
The reasons for lying may vary, but the consequences are the same. Oftentimes, people lie to avoid something negative. Lying creates a false sense of security and happiness. It can seem like a great option in the moment, but being dishonest can have catastrophic outcomes in the future.