People Who Lied Less Reported Better Relationships, Improved Mental, Physical Health: Study
People who make an effort to lie less say they have better relationships and report fewer health complaints, according to new research.
"Our findings support the notion that lying less can cause better health through improving relationships," says researcher Anita Kelly, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame. "Improvements in the relationships accounted for a significant improvement in health."
The findings echo some other research findings by Sally Theran, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass.
"My research on girls and boys ... indicates that the process of being authentic, or being honest and open in meaningful relationships, is significantly related to feeling less depressed and having higher self-esteem," she says.
Honesty is also related to feelings of intimacy in friendships, she has found. "There may be increased conflict, as a result of being open and honest, but it leads to better quality of friendships," Theran says.
Telling the truth can feel risky, she says, but when you do so, you can feel less inner conflict. "When we lie," she says, "it adversely affects our self-esteem and increases our sense of shame. So, it's not surprising at all that the authors found that telling the truth was related to all these positive outcomes."
On average, Americans lie about 11 times a week, says Kelly, citing surveys by others.
Some of those are whoppers. Other are white lies, often meant to spare feelings or save face.