Why Do We Lie?
- 6 Months ago
"Lying is considered a sign of intelligence and cognitive skill, as it takes some aptitude to recognize the way things are and then create and present an alternative to that reality." Motivation for lying is usually tied up in self-esteem and self-preservation. Psychologist Robert Feldman cites self-esteem as one of the biggest culprits in our lying ways: "We find that as soon as people feel that their self-esteem is threatened, they immediately begin to lie at higher levels."
Small lies are probably the most common sort of lie used to avoid conflict, and is a top motivator for deception. For instance, a person lying about traffic holding them up rather than sleeping in, or a "no, you look great in that dress"- both sorts of lies achieve the effect of avoiding social conflict. They are "make life easier" kind of lies says Feldman.
Now, back to the self esteem angle: The farther one's true self is from his or her ideal self, the more likely they are to lie to boost themselves up, in others eyes or their eyes, or perhaps, how they perceive others to perceive them. This is a hard train of thought to follow, but lying is a complex phenomenon.
Physical cues believed to be associated with lying include an increased incidence of leaning forward, licking the lips, touching the nose, averting the gaze and handling objects. An insincere smile, characterized by lack of movement of the wrinkle lines around the eyes is another well know indicator of lying. People who are lying also often reveal themselves verbally. Verbal cues include the increased use of verbal qualifiers or modifiers, the use of expanded contractions (e.g. I did not rather than I didn't), stuttering, throat clearing and speech errors (Science of Lying by Sean Henahan, Access Excellence).
Recent research on lying has shown that up to 60% of people lie, males doing so more than females by two to three times. People lie an average of 25 times a day, mostly to make themselves good in the eye of others, to avoid discomfort or to dodge trouble.