Why Do People Lie?

By Barbara Aufiero
Why Do People Lie?

Recognizing our flaws is not easy, but admitting them to others can be difficult. Lying about our weaknesses may allow you to save face. Some lies may seem harmless to one person but others may have a different perception. Though it may not always be easier to tell the truth, it is almost always the right thing in the end. The reasons people lie are endless but are generally selfish.


People lie to benefit or protect themselves in some way. For example, individuals may lie by enhancing their qualifications to get a job or exaggerate their characteristics to make new friends. Presidential candidates may lie about their intentions to change the country in order to get votes. Children may lie to avoid being punished or in hopes of receiving a reward.


Popular types of lies are white lies, bold-faced lies and lies of omission. White lies are considered insignificant or harmless. People may tell a white lie to hide a secret or prevent someone from knowing something prematurely, like a surprise party. Bold-faced lies are outright denials of the truth despite evidence proving otherwise. People may tell bold faced lies when the consequences of telling the truth can be disastrous such as being arrested. Lies of omission occur when someone is led to believe a falsehood by withholding important facts. People may make lies of omission by not confessing they did something for which someone else is taking the blame.


Lies are often told when people are put on the spot to answer uncomfortable or personal questions such as "How much money do you make?" or "How many people have you slept with?" Lies may be told instead of the truth in hopes of obtaining the acceptance of others by telling them what you think they want to hear. People also lie to manipulate or control others by turning people against each other. For example, they may lie to start a rumor in hopes of damaging someone else's reputation or bolstering their own.


Another reason why people lie is to avoid problems within their relationships. Telling unflattering or uncomfortable truths can sometimes diminish the trust and confidence others have in you. However, telling one lie can lead to another and then another, thus allowing the truth to get lost somewhere along the way.


Sometimes people lie to protect the feelings of others. Certainly, you do not want to insult the host at a party by telling him or her that the food was terrible or that you had an unpleasant time. Friends might keep upsetting information from other friends. Therefore, people do not always lie out of malice. Sometimes it is to protect others from learning something that would upset them.

About the Author

Barbara Aufiero has been writing health-related articles since 2008, specializing in mental health and health insurance. Aufiero resides in New York and holds a Master of Arts in psychology.