Why do people lie?

by Harley Therapy
Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Statistically speaking you are a liar. Research shows the average person lies once to twice a day. Does that sound like a lie? Before you make up your mind ask yourself these two questions. 1 - do you ever offer compliments that aren’t totally genuine? 2 - Have you faked being ‘fine’ when, in reality, you were at the end of your tether?

We all do it.

Normal versus prolific lying

So we’ve discovered we all lie. But the good news is we are generally honest. Yes, recent research uncovered most lies are told by the same, minute group of individuals known as ‘prolific’ liars. Here’s some tips on how to spot a prolific liar – liars telling over five lies per day:

They tend to be younger men with higher employment statuses.

Partners and children are typically the subjects of their lying.

They are more likely than average to feel lying is ok in certain circumstances.

They are likely to lie in their own self-interest as opposed to protecting others.

They tell a whopping 19.1 lies for every significant lie told by an average individual.

People prefer to lie for their team

Research has found people are more likely to lie in order to receive incentives benefiting their team as opposed to for themselves. Employees for example are more likely to mislead their boss about the status of a project if it prevents the team from trouble.

Lying is not a mental illness

Lying is not a mental ilness and people may lie to:

  • Cover up shame
  • Improve their ego
  • Gain employment
  • Attract more money, power or sex

But lying can be a symptom of emotional turmoil

Those engaging in compulsive lying behaviour may have low self-esteem. And often they have experienced childhood. Issues of abuse may also be at the centre of an individual’s unhealthy lying.

If you need to talk to a therapist about lying or being deceived, find a therapist to talk to by video call here.

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