Why Do We Lie


When children are younger, they believe that that they are constantly being watched by their parents, whom they see as authority figures. So they are considerably more inclined towards telling the truth. But as they grow older, they start experimenting with not always telling the truth. Studies show that an average 4-year old tells a lie every 2 hours. Lying is not something we are born with, it’s a skill we have to learn. Telling a lie requires a whole new level of dedication and creative thinking. From scientific point of view, being a good liar is tremendously difficult. So, why do Humans lie?

Ability to lie is not easy to acquire. Lying is something that very few species can do effectively. Scientists have found evidence of lying in other animals too. Koko, the gorilla, who understands sign language, once ripped a steel sink from a wall. And when her handlers confronted her about it, she signaled towards a cat. Animals lie to secure advantage over each other. It may be for food, territory or mates. But no species has developed this art better than us humans. But for our brain, lying is not an easy task because it has to hold two conflicting piece of evidence at once. It has to then suppress the truth and tell the lie, without displaying any symptoms. There are different categories of liars.


Pathological Liars

Pathological liars are remorseless liars who don’t even worry for the consequences by convincing themselves that their lie is actually the Truth. When they lie, they have a firm belief that what they are saying is nothing but truth. This makes them utterly convincing.


Compulsive Liars

These are the people who lie at the first given opportunity even when there is no gain from lying. Even though they are regular liars, this kind of behavior seems to originate from childhood, where while growing up, lying was necessary for emotional well-being. Like most human behavior, compulsive lying is a product of evolution.


Following are certain reasons why normal people lie:

1.To avoid punishment

Lying often starts with some sort of wrong doing. When a person does something that others disapprove of, that person denies the crime often pointing fingers at someone else, in order to avoid punishment of any sort that might follow.


2.To avoid embarrassment

Embarrassment is a powerful form of self-inflicted punishment, where one imagines what others might think and assume that they are silently disapproving. The resultant fear of loss of esteem and social position, causes a powerful enough force to make people lie in order to reduce its impact on their social position.

28 Nov 2012, Jersey City, New Jersey, USA --- Hispanic girl covering her face with sweater --- Image by © JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/CorbisRef

3.Gaining advantage

Lying is often used as a tool for material gains. Lying often seems worthwhile if one can gain profit or reward from it.


4.Gaining esteem

We often come across people who lie to gain the admiration of other people. Impression-management is particularly common in social, romantic and work situations, where one needs others to think that they are competent and successful in order to get their approval and the subsequent rewards.


5.Helping others

This is a more acceptable reason for lying in the society we live. In certain situations, one needs to lie in order to save a friend or acquaintance from embarrassment or punishment.


6.White lies

Sometimes it becomes necessary to lie like for saving a relationship. Or may be to ease someone’s anxiety. These lies are known as white lies.


However, it is not that difficult to find out if someone is lying. Our body reacts in certain peculiar ways to adjust the discomfort our mind goes through while lying. Lying is definitely something that cannot be justified for any reason whatsoever and hence should be avoided. It often leads us to a bigger soup than what we already are in.


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