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Avoiding Lies Might Benefit More than Your Conscience

August 11, 2012

USA Today recently released an article regarding a study that indicates that lying less is good for a person’s mental and physical well-being.

This is a relatively new study, and further testing would need to be done to confirm this hypothesis, but it is an interesting find, nonetheless.

The participants in the study were separated into two groups – a control group in which the people behaved as they normally would, and another group that was explicitly told not to tell lies for any reason. There was some leeway for the latter group – participants were not required to tell the truth, they were just told not to lie.

The results? The group that was supposed to refrain from lying completely “experienced, on average, four fewer mental-health complaints and three fewer physical complaints.” Specifically, the study hypothesizes that this better health is a result of improving relationships.

Other studies have shown that, on average, Americans lie approximately 11 times per week. This finding led to the study investigating whether it is possible for people to lie less frequently (the answer appears to be yes), as well as to look into how participants curbed their lying. The answers that participants gave for this latter questions appears to be that they consciously thought about why they were lying, and realized that sometimes their lies were unnecessary, or that they could evade topics that made them uncomfortable rather than telling an untruth. The study also notes that “telling people brutal truths was not the alternative to lying.”

Lying less leads to less stress and better relationships, but does not mean that total honesty is required. This article from 2009 actually suggests that small lies might be necessary in order for a romantic relationship to endure.

What are your thoughts regarding this study? Let us know in the comments below!

(CBS posted the study here, if you are interested and would like to read it.)

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