No matter how careful we try to be about our everyday whereabouts, no person can possibly stay one hundred percent honest throughout their lives, and at one point of their life or the other, in one way or the other, it happens that they resort to lying for some reason- either big or small.
But nobody differentiates between lies as such, because whether big or small, a lie is always a lie, and it can be never undone or unsaid. Thus, the harm caused by lying can be described as irreversible, and therefore, we must be extremely careful about the consequences which can possibly stem from one seemingly small act of us lying for certain purposes.
Lying can also take the form of a disease, as some people can eventually become compulsive liars, as they constantly turn to lying, even if it serves no special purpose. Therefore, we must also be careful about the frequency of the act of lying we resort to.
There are several biological cues to lying as well- as in, there are certain specific non-verbal communication cues which might expose when someone is lying or not. These eventually led to the invention of a scientific device called the ‘polygraph’, or more commonly, the lie detector, which claims to accurately detect when one person is lying or not through certain bodily indicators such as changes in skin temperature, rate of heart beat, etc.
However, the accuracy of all such measures is highly debatable. Lying is an indispensable part of human life and we can try to analyse the cause by first studying the causes and effects of why people resort to the act of telling lies, which will be briefly described in this essay.
Table of Contents
Causes – why do people lie?
The most common reason for which people lie is the urgent need to hide truth. Day in and day out, many occasions take place which force us into certain situations where we cannot possibly disclose the truth, and therefore we necessarily need to conceal it from other people or institutions- either wholly, or partially. A lot of such times, lying, or hiding the truth is not very harmful and it can be quite easily overlooked.
However, hiding the truth, especially from the authorities can more than often land us and our close associates into troubles. For such reasons, lying to higher authorities such as one’s teachers or professors at educational institutes, one’s boss at the workplace, and especially the police, etc. is highly detrimental, and shall be avoided at all costs. Moreover, we also lie to save ourselves from different kinds of trouble, and, for convenience.
The most common lie of telling the teacher that you have forgotten to bring your notebook to class for escaping the consequences of not finishing the homework clearly demonstrates this factor evidently. We always want to gain all sort of benefits possible and therefore we also tend to lie to hide some undesirable facts about ourselves and show ourselves in a better light. This is also a part of our impression management.
For example, in interviews and similar situations, we try to only disclose the favourable information about us and hide the undesirable ones, so that the interviewers (or other people, in general) like us more than they would have if they had known the hidden set of facts.
Creating a good impression serves as one of the major motivations for us to lie. Also, people lie for the good of others as well, for instance, when they do not want to hurt someone or even themselves. Although this aims at not causing anyone any harm, but even this technique can very often backfire.
When we try to hide some truth from someone else to not cause them any pain, we are essentially not equipping them with the opportunity of dealing with their own problems. In this way, by wanting to not cause anyone discomforts, we somehow, maybe even unintentionally, cause them more harm than good. Therefore, even in this way, lying serves us no good at all.
Effects – what happens when we lie?
There are many adverse consequences of lying, but perhaps the most severe of all of those are the loss of face, or the decline in the reputation of the person who is lying. If a person is known to be a frequent liar, his or her reputation falls under severe criticism.
This can eventually lead to even graver consequences, for example, such people will never be possibly believed wholeheartedly by the others, no matter how genuine they later become in their endeavors. Thus, lying can jeopardize not just our present but also our future and can have certain long-lasting consequences.
Moreover, lying can land us into the exact trouble we have been trying to avoid by lying in the first place. If people come to know or get a hint about us lying about something, then they are also likely to play along and eventually cause us harm and tricking us into believing their innocence.
This is yet another adverse effect of lying. Apart from these, lying can also cause suspicion among others and lead to miscommunication and a certain degree of misunderstanding. This can prove to be very harmful, especially in interpersonal relationships, and therefore, lying to one’s close and loved ones are never advisable.
Lying can also make us question our self-worth and create a feeling of guilt and unease within our own self. This can also drive people to frustration, anxiety, paranoia, grief, and even clinical depression. This might be the worst effect of lying, as it hampers our self-image to a great extent, and distorts how we see and treat ourselves.
If we eventually lose the confidence in ourselves, then it might become even more likely that we will continue to use lies as our defence mechanism. Lying can also make us underestimate or overestimate people and their capabilities.
People are almost always lying about their identities, sometimes in a small degree and other times in far greater degrees. Therefore, we can perhaps never discover the real person beneath all the masks they wear in the form of such lying. Furthermore, lying need not be solely verbal.
Conveying false or untrue facts or messages through body gestures or expressions can also be counted as lying, and these are equally, if not more harmful to us. There is no possible way to stop lying. There is also no possible advice we can give someone to discourage them from lying in the future.
In such cases, experience might serve as out only weapon, which means, if we had ever lied in the past and landed into some trouble, or faced some negative consequences due to the same, we might refrain from going down the same path again in the future. Perhaps, this is the only way to make the human link of communication more honest and pure.