We all tell them.  Yes, even you.  Numerous studies show that we each lie regularly, to varying degrees, and probably more than you think. If this surprises you, consider 3 common examples and whether or not you’re guilty: 1) You arrive late to meet someone and blame it on the traffic (or something else) when really you just left late; 2) You text someone that you’re on your way, when in fact you’re still a good 10-15 minutes from leaving; 3) Your friend asks if you like her new outfit and you answer ‘yes’ to avoid hurt feelings.

White lies bridge the gap between what we wish were true and what is actually true, as Pamela Meyers points out in her Ted Talk, and they’re practically sanctioned by society. Most of the time, we say them to protect ourselves, someone else or to save a relationship unnecessary stress. When you consider our reasons and the minimal (or even positive) impact our lies may have, it can be suggested that lying in certain situations may actually be good for us. (Please note this only refers to white lies; deeper deception can be extremely dangerous and damaging).

Fun Facts About Fibs:

  • We are told between 10-200 lies every day
  • Women lie most often to protect others
  • Men lie 8x more often about themselves
  • Email is the most honest form of communication; phone calls are the least
  • Online communication is significantly more honest than face-to-face
  • 80% of online daters lie, but very minimally (after all, you will meet in person)

The fact that we’re more honest online than face-to-face or on the phone asserts that we want to tell the truth, and when we have the opportunity to ‘think things out’ we’re more forthcoming; but when we feel ‘put on the spot’ in real time we tend to be less honest.

To Lie or Not to Lie. Once we recognize how prevalent white lies are, it’s interesting to reflect on our personal role as liars. Next time you tell a fib, ask yourself why you lied. If your answer is, ‘because the words just came out’ or ‘because I usually lie about that’, it’s worth making an effort to break the habit. Lying should be a choice we make in certain situations, not something we do automatically. By being more aware, we’ll likely choose honesty more often. And don’t we all feel a little better when we tell the truth?

* Song for this moment: “White Lies” by Odesza, featuring Jenni Potts. 


Related Links:

* The Future of Lying: https://goo.gl/0T74GI

* The Science of Why We Lie: http://goo.gl/SV5J41

* 10 Research Findings About Deception That Will Blow Your Mind: http://goo.gl/a9mFsj