There are plenty of morally permissible reasons to lie – complimenting a dreadful haircut, assuring a friend he or she doesn’t look fat, and promising to wear the exceptionally unattractive sweater you got for your birthday are all justifiable deceits by virtue of being polite.
Honesty may be a social virtue, but lying is a social reflex. We don’t flinch when it comes to white lies—especially when we tell them to protect and preserve our relationships. We lie to our friends and family because we care more about them than we care about honesty. But why do we lie to ourselves?
In his article in Forbes, “The Business of Lying (Or Fooling Others to Remain Honest To Yourself),” Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic points out three types of lies we learn as children and carry into adulthood:
1. Lies that enable us to get along with others (white lies)
2. Lies that protect us from punishment (it wasn’t me)
3. Self-deceiving lies (I tried my best, I never lie)
Although the first two are essential to getting along in polite society, the third is potentially harmful. After all, as Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic says, “The more honest you think you are, the more delusional you are likely to be.”
Want to know more? Check out Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic’s article here.