Why do we lie? – The psychology of lying

Researchers have found out that most people can’t even go for 10 minutes without telling a lie. So at least don’t lie to yourself, and admit that you do it to. We’re not saying that it’s every ten minutes exactly, but it’s true that we all lie sometimes. We’re not necessarily talking about big lies that can lead to terrible consequences, but we have to admit that the small, white lies are a part of our everyday lives. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s go over to the real question we need answers to, which is: why do we lie in the first place?

No matter if we’re talking about lying to your wife that her dinner was the best you’ve had, or telling someone their make-up is spot on, when they shouldn’t even leave the house looking like that – in both cases we would be lying. These lies, however could easily be classified as white lies, that are not considered harmful to others.

We will go over white and regular lies too, so that you can see how people’s body language changes when they lie, and know how to better detect if someone’s lying to you or not.

Sometimes people lie to inflate their image

This behavior can be seen in powerful and famous individuals most of all, because they are usually the ones who do anything they can to preserve or even inflate their image. We have been witnesses to many such cases. Among the more recent ones was when President Donald Trump lied that the crowd was bigger at his Inaugurations, than it was for President Obama’s. Some people lie to hide a scandalous event that had occurred to them. They often try covering it up, or making up a story to distract people from what happened, such as swimmer Ryan Lochte once did. He decided to lie that he had been held at gun point, when in fact he was confronted by security guards, because he had been drinking and damaging property.

Why do kids lie and is it healthy?

why do we lie - children lyingScience seems to say that it can be healthy for children to lie. Scientists say that children begin telling lies at the age of two, mainly because they want to cover up something bad they’ve done, or gain something for themselves.

As they grow a bit older, they start telling more white lies in order to be polite, or avoid hurting someone else’s feelings.

Scientists believe that it’s quite normal and healthy for children to lie sometimes, as long as they are honest about the important things. They might actually have a good point, since a world without lies, filled with the brutal truths all the time, can be quite hard to live in.

How can you detect when a child is lying?

This one is quite easy. What you need to do is just ask the child if he or she lied. It’s that simple.

Children under 7 years of age cannot cover up the lie they just told, so it will be apparent in their behavior, and their body language that what they just told was a lie.

Although most parents sometimes tend to worry that their child is lying, they should actually do the exact opposite. They should be happy about the fact that their child is simply a healthy kid who understands people’s emotions, can differentiate between what they know, and how they feel, and can communicate well with others.

Why do adults lie?

With adults, the situation is a lot more complicated. As we grow older, we get more adapt to lying. We start lying with ease. We lie to our friends, co-workers, strangers, and even to our family. Lying is a part of what makes us human.

There are a few situations where we tend to lie the most, and those are:

  • Covering up a mistake we made (22%)
  • Avoiding others (14%)
  • Hoping to gain economical and financial benefits (16%)
  • Impressing someone or making them laugh (5%)
  • Helping others (5%)
  • Avoid being rude, or hurt a person’s feelings (4%)
  • Hurting others (2%)
  • Pathologically (2%)
  • For unknown reasons (7%)

Do many people lie on their online dating profile? Find out here.

How do we detect when an adult is lying to us?

why do we lie - signs of lyingThis is when it becomes a bit trickier. Children are a bit easier to understand, and are way more honest than adults are. As we mentioned earlier, all you have to do in order to find out if a child is lying to you is to just ask them. With adults, however it’s a bit more difficult than just asking.

Here are a few ways that might help you determine if someone is lying or not.

Signs to look forwhy do we lie - signs of lying

  • A pause before they give you the answer. This doesn’t apply to a question they would actually need to stop and think about for a second.
  • Nodding while saying no, and shaking their head while saying yes. This doesn’t apply for one word responses, only when a person is responding in a full sentence can they unconsciously make this switch. You should also have in mind that in some cultures people actually shake their head for approval, and nod when they want to say no, which might be confusing to some.
  • Hiding the eyes and mouth. If someone hides his or her face, especially the eyes and the mouth, while they’re talking to you, chances are they’re trying to cover up a lie. That’s because when we’re telling someone a lie, we want to shield ourselves from them, and from their reaction. The best way to know if someone is lying to you when you ask them something, is to look at their face as they answer, and see if they’ll try to hide their mouth while talking to you.
  • Swallowing and clearing their throat. Swallowing or clearing your throat after answering a question is nothing to worry about. It’s when it happens before you answer that can raise suspicion. What this could possibly mean is that your level of anxiety has risen, which has caused your mouth and throat to dry up.
  • Another sign you might look for is grooming. When someone is telling a lie, you can notice that they might also feel the need to straighten their shirt, adjust their tie, move a few hairs behind the ear, or take a handkerchief and wipe their face. They might even sometimes start tidying their desk and surroundings while talking to you.

Written by Marija Krstova

Marija Krstova is a blogger and content writer. She writes about health & wellness, fitness & nutrition, travel, gaming, lifestyle and more. When she’s not writing, you can find her travelling, playing with her dogs or enjoying a sunny day at the park.

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