From a young age, we teach our children that lying is bad. We want them to be honest and bear the consequences of their actions. We value honesty as a moral virtue. But is the truth always more important than empathy or the intention to help someone?The research of Bella DePaulo, a sociologist, shows that almost everyone lies. In her study she asked a group of 77 students and 70 people of various occupations to write down every time they lied during their ten-minute interactions with other people. The experiment lasted for a week. The results show that only 1% of the students and 8% of the people of other occupations did not lie. So the question is not WHETHER we lie, but HOW MUCH we lie, and what kind of lies we tell. DePaulo distinguishes two groups of lies. White lies and well-intentioned untruths
- These are usually harmless lies, which we tell our loved ones to make them feel better or to avoid conflicts.
- We use them when we care about the person. We also use them to make ourselves look better in the eyes of others, or to achieve what we want.
- Examples of white lies: ‘You look great.’ ‘I know exactly how you feel.’ ‘You couldn’t have done anything to prevent.’
- Lies that destroy trust between people.
- They are frowned upon by the society.
- The most frequent ones are about love affairs.
- They are meant to cover up for transgressions which we do not want to take the consequences of.