Psychology – Why People Lie
The most common malady of the human race isn’t the common cold as most people would have you believe, it is the need to be better than everyone else. Fame, fortune, pride. While these traits can be achieved through honest means, there will always come a time when people will lie. Sometimes it’s not for the three traits, sometimes it’s to protect the people you love, sometimes it is because you are angry at someone and simply wish to hurt them, sometimes it’s even to make someone happy. Regardless of the reason and form however, lying is mostly frowned upon in the world.
Some people simply love the feeling of lying. There is a sense of power it brings when you can make someone believe your story despite the fact that it is merely fabricated. Sometimes it’s for our own benefit, to put a troubled conscience at ease, we tell ourselves that what we’re about to do “is for the best” despite knowing that it will only complicate whatever trouble we’re already in. Aside from this reason, a person mostly lies depending on the situation.
In a romantic relationship, a person lies for a colorful number of reasons that to list them down would take a whole new paper. But whatever the specialty or specifics of the situation, a person who lies in a romantic relationship usually lies because they’re cheating, they don’t want to tell their parent a certain aspect of themselves that even they cannot accept, they don’t want to get into a confrontation with their partner or because they’re already in love with someone else but they’re not brave enough to tell their partner about their budding feelings for someone else.
In these cases, the chances of getting caught in the lie are greater as the person you are lying to be a person who should know you intimately. Intimacy requires trust, a trait that doesn’t develop when a lie used as lies require deception. In the case of not being ready to tell someone a certain characteristic about you, this act of lying is someone merely trying to maintain a sense of self and increase their survival rate.
As stated, intimacy requires trust, more importantly; intimacy increases the risk of someone you consider as your ‘enemy’ to know your weakness. While the whole point of trusting someone who knows that they will not divulge your secrets to people you don’t trust, this is never a guarantee as such, the stated circumstance usually happens early in a relationship as sooner or later the individual will feel comfortable enough to tell the truth to their partner. This is one of the rare cases where the act of lying is mostly acceptable by the standards of society.
In a more platonic relationship, a person usually lies for less worthy reasons. This is when lying for fame, fortune and out of pride can be applied. A person usually lies because they are not in a position to bargain, to get ahead of the competition, to get away from responsibility, to procrastinate, as a form of embellishment as the truth, while easy to tell is still too embarrassing in its current state, to gain something financially or even to put their rival in a more compromising situation than they are.
These are the cases where society frowns upon lying as it is used in situations that don’t help anyone in the end. In a more traditional saying, a victory based on a lie is a hollow victory as it doesn’t last. But the worst and also the most controversial form of lying is when a person lies to themselves.
It has been proven that a person can actually start to accept a lie that they tell themselves. If a lie, told enough times to the person without someone else contradicting them, the person will start to believe it. It is in this sense that a person can fall for a lie that they themselves made. By using half-truths, denying what they know, and comforting themselves, the mind starts to believe it. This is usually what happens to a victim of a traumatic event and they have a hard time remembering details of the event in question.
As stated, there are times when people lie for more virtuous reasons. There are times when a person did not have enough time to explain their situation, or to protect someone else, or even to maintain the sense of peace and security that someone else is already used to. These cases are usually times when the moral stance of the situation is ambiguous and the person is left to decide rather or not the ramifications of their actions are a fair price for the truth. In a theoretical situation for example, a priest is not meant to tell anyone else the confessions of their church members. But what if the person confessing is confessing about a murder he is about to commit? Or say a terrorist who is about to blow up a crowded place for instance?
Is it more honorable for the priest to keep his oath and tell no one of such confessions, knowing that his silence will mean the death of many? Or would it be better to break his oath and save the masses? Depending upon the moral belief of the person, the answers will differ, a humanist or a person who follows utilitarianism would break his oath, and a person who believes the teachings of mightism might not come to the same conclusion.
In the end, what has been proven countless of times is the fact that a deception will always have an end. One way or another, the truth will always come out. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, but no single deception can last forever as it is not an occurrence that happens naturally in the world .
Charlie, S. Psychology Behind Why People Lie. 19 July 2012. Article. 9 April 2013.