Honesty may be the healthiest policy
It is interesting to see how America’s modern culture has blurred the lines of social honesty. There seem to be a number of situations where it is more socially acceptable to lie to someone as opposed to telling them the truth.
For example, if an acquaintance buys an unappealing jacket, and they ask for an opinion, do you tell them the truth?
Many would consider a truthful answer in this scenario to be rude, and people who are so consistently forthcoming with their honesty are often labeled as blunt and insensitive. But is it really better to lie?
Apparently many people feel that it is. Anita E. Kelly, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame, states in an American Psychological Association article that Americans tell an average of about 11 lies a week.
It is such a common occurrence that minor lies have a nickname, “white lies,” which are intended to be such harmless falsehoods that they actually protect the feelings of the person being deceived.
Kelly conducted a 10-week long study to see if minor or major lies could have an affect on a person’s mental health. In the study, a number of diverse participants were told not to lie at all for 10 weeks, while the people in a separate control group were given no specific instructions. The members of both groups were given weekly health examinations.
The results of the study revealed that participants who told fewer lies were more mentally and physically healthy throughout the 10 week period. These participants reported that their personal relationships and social interactions had improved as a result of their honesty.
So while telling white lies might save someone from hurt feelings, this study suggests it will also negatively affect the liar’s overall health.