In our society lying is seen as moral wrongdoing, a truly antisocial and disrespectful behavior. If we find out that we have been lied to we are offended, hurt and disappointed. But, at a second thought, lies should not be condemned easily. Sure, on the one hand we`re told that being honest is the best policy. On the other hand, we know we should try to be nice to other people as often as possible. And these motives are opposites more often than not.
Why we lie
From a very early age on we`re told that lying is unjust and inacceptable. Children but also adults often lie to conceal misdeeds and wrongdoings in order to stay out of trouble. The motivation for this behavior is quite obvious: avoidance of negative consequences.
More complex motives why people tell lies could be to preserve their own reputation or to even increase their stature. Yes, guys, bragging might also be lying!
Furthermore, we all can imagine that some lies may be told to avoid hurting someone`s feelings:
“ Oh, I like your new haircut!” “This meal tastes delicious!” “Sure, I`ll call you!”
But it gets even more awful. People lie to manipulate others or control situations. Typically, especially this behavior strongly goes against our sense of justice and respect and deeply repels us. Clearly, we nobody likes to be manipulated by others.
On the other hand, the problem with truth is that it doesn’t always serve our purposes, further our careers or keep us out of trouble. So, what do we do?
We all do it
Remember Bill Clinton`s famous “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” when he rather should´ve said “I had an affair with my intern, Monica Lewinsky.”? Did you follow Lance Armstrong`s confessional interview with Oprah about his unprecedented career and worldwide popularity being based on illegal doping?
More on really big hoaxes and why we tell the biggest lies to the ones we love over on TEDxVienna.