Why do people lie?

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Why do people lie?

There are lots of reasons that could motivate people to tell lies. Even though each reason might be different than the other still all of them stem from one root cause which is being unable to bear the consequences of telling the truth.

Lack of courage, lack of problem-solving skills & lack of the ability to properly handle unexpected events may make escaping from a situation a much better option than facing it.

If the person values honesty or if they are religious then they may try to escape from problems without lying but If lying was a possible option then it will definitely be considered the easier way out.

Consequently, lying is the combination of being unable to face the results of honesty and the lack of proper values (the tolerance of lying).

Other reasons that make people lie

The previous introduction provided a general explanation of the psychology of lying and the following are more specific situations that will elaborate the reasons behind lying.

  • 1) To seek attention : some people choose to lie because they lack self confidence and feel overlooked by their peers. They usually make up stories in order to gain some of the lost attention.
  • 2) To achieve their goals: People may also lie to get some incentive or benefit, for example lying on their resumes or in job interviews. Even if the intentions were good still lying in such a case results from the inability to tolerate the consequences of admitting that they don’t have the required skills.
  • 3) To avoid punishment: In many cases a person can lie in order to avoid being punished. This is the most common reason that motivates children to lie to their parents. If the parents are very harsh or if they punish their children severely when they make mistakes then they might motivate them to lie
  • 4) To feel worthy: some people lie in order to feel more worthy. A person can lie about their income in order to make themselves seem more worthy to others. In such a case the person chooses to lie because they believe that telling the truth would make them seem unworthy
  • 5) To deceive others: Some people might lie in order to deceive others or manipulate them. Those people might think that lying to others makes them smart or intelligent

Why do people lie to themselves?

Do people lie to themselves on purpose?
No they don’t. They just lie to themselves on intention in the beginning and they keep repeating the lie to everyone until they eventually believe it.

Don't be surprised; the subconscious mind can be programmed by repetition, that’s why people end up believing their lies after repeating the story over and over.

A person for example can lie about their life goals by claiming that they don't really have any goals life (in order to avoid hard work). After some time the person might believe the lie then end up feeling depressed without realizing that giving up on their goals is the main cause for their depression.

Why do people lie in relationships?

People who lie in relationships are divided into two categories, the ones who lie hoping to rescue the relationship and the ones who lie to cover their mistakes.

A person for example could lie to their spouse in order to maintain harmony in the relationship while another could lie to hide the fact that they are not being honest.

I personally don’t agree with both groups as lying might only solve problems on the short term but will ruin things on the long term especially if the lies were discovered. A third category includes those who cheat. people who cheat in a relationship will usually want to hide every possible trace they left and that's why they lie.

Handling lies

If people always lie to you then don't worry. The links below can teach you how to spot a liar.

If on the other hand you lie often then you need to learn how to face problems instead of escaping from them. By improving your problem solving skills lying won’t be your only option and so you will lie less often.

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