Friday, 9 May 2014

If You Lie and You Know It...

Do you have a problem too?
People lie. They lie all the time and time and again I've had the opportunity to meet with liars. What happens in their heads and why they don't even consider the slightest possibility of 'what if she knows the truth?' has always been ridiculously amusing to me. Either out of kindness or just deriving pleasure listening to them or my inability, I've never confronted people but it always compels me to think about the reasons that trigger such behaviour.

At some point, all of us have lied in one way or the other. There are various degrees of lying from plain harmless white or 'prosocial' lies to pathological lying. White lies is a more diplomatic way of communicating a feeling, perspective or impression. People often use white lies to:
  1. Avoid hurting people or out of concern
  2. Avoid conflicts
  3. Express something in a harmless way or
  4. Avoid refusing to something
Researches reveal that humans learn to lie at a very early age. There are 3 levels of lying in the developmental model of lying:
  1. Primary; Ages 2-4: Harmless white lies to coverup a breach of rules.
  2. Secondary; Ages 4-6: Appeals to the listener's reasoning.
  3. Tertiary; Ages 7 and above: Well constructed with follow up statements. 
Also, family is the first school and lying can also develop as a habit when a child sees his/her parents/guardians lie in everyday life. Even small white lies like calling in sick can send out wrong messages to a child's straightforward way of thinking. Parents should also check the way they respond to minor transgressions at home as children are most likely to fib when they fear your response.

But what about those for whom lying is a habit? Many people gradually get to the stage when they lie about almost everything, whereas some are wired to lie. Mostly, lying is not inherited but there is strong evidence of genetic connection when it comes to 'pseudologia fantastica' or compulsive/pathological lying. There are symptoms associated with compulsive lying and such people if not treated may turn into sociopaths and even resort to drugs. People lie outrageously for many reasons and often there are underlying psychological issues.

Low Self Esteem and Inferiority Complex
Low self esteem is one of the major driving forces for lying. People want to feel good about themselves, want to be accepted and often lie to portray themselves as likable to the listener. Self acceptance issues may trigger lying to portray oneself in a better light. The higher the frequency of a lie, the more it reinforces self image. A liar forms a world around himself where he sees and believes himself as he would like to be seen or be accepted. There is often a lot of compulsion over people to lie to be able to feel equal to their counterparts.

Fear is also a major contributor to developing a lying habit. Feeling vulnerable is human nature and we often lie when we feel threatened by something or someone.

Protect Self Image 
We do not act as we are expected to in every situation. Our virtuous moral system sets up these expectations not taking our human nature into account. Therefore, people resort to lying about their take, actions and reactions on situations where they were expected to act a certain way and they did not. And all this effort is to protect their self image in front of others and more importantly, themselves.

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