Today's post is authored by Social Construct Project Group member, Mustafa Edriss.
“A little white lie never hurt anyone.” How is it that these few words have such a powerful impact on our society? In today’s world, bending the truth has become a norm. Whether it’s to a friend, classmate, even a professor, it’s become a part of our daily lives. The definition of the word “truth” is described as, “the quality or state of being true.” Sounds simple right? If it’s so simple, why has it become such a prevalent thing to do the exact opposite?
So, what are the reasons for why people lie? People lie to improve social stature, exempt credit from others and claim it for themselves, cover rather poor performances, conceal mistakes they have made, deflect blame, and to manipulate and control others. Regardless of why people decide to lie, the end result proves to be the same.
A study conducted by Anita E. Kelly, Ph.D. a professor of psychology at Notre Dame University, showed that Americans average about 11 lies every week. That’s an astronomically high number for something we have been taught since the beginning of mankind not to do. The study also pointed out how telling the truth can have an effect on your mental and physical well-being.
Scientists at the American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Convention discussed a study of 110 people, half of whom were instructed to completely stop lying for 10 weeks. The other half, who received no instructions in regards to truthfulness, served as a control. All participants were assessed weekly on health and relationship measures and with a polygraph test assessing the number of major and minor lies they had told that week.
The effect was strongest in the group who had been instructed not to lie. In weeks where they told three fewer lies than in other weeks, they reported an average of four fewer mental-health complaints and three fewer physical complaints. (1)
How is it that just by being more honest, your health will begin to improve? Studies have shown that through the refrain of being dishonest, your stress levels decrease greatly. “Stress reduces your body's number of infection-fighting white blood cells, and over the years, could contribute to lower-back pain, tension headaches, a rapid heartbeat, menstrual problems, and even infertility.”(2)
Dishonesty also has a powerful way of ruining your authenticity as a respectable individual. When one lies, they put their credibility on the line and are subject to question. “When you stand for honesty, you believe in yourself and everything you represent. When you stand for honesty, everything you say carries the voice of credibility. But, when you’re dishonest, your soiled reputation will do the speaking for you.” (3)
So for whatever reason you do choose to tell a fib, make sure you are ready to accept the consequences. The possibilities of backlash are infinite in many more ways than one. If the destruction of your own reputation doesn’t frighten you, then the possibility of it affecting your inner psych and your physical wellbeing might.
“Honesty is the best policy.”- Benjamin Franklin
"Honesty: The Plain and Simple Truth." Frank Sonnenberg Online. N.p., 15 Oct. 2013. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.
Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.
"Honesty Is the Best Policy - Being Honest Leads to Better Health." Natural Society. N.p., 15 Aug. 2012. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.