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7 Reasons People Lie When They Don’t Need To


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To lie is human. People lie in one out of three to five interactions on an average (1). Bella De Paulo, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, conducted research titled, “The Many Faces of Lies.” According to the study, people mostly lied about their feelings and opinions to either hide their inadequacies or not hurt somebody’s feelings (2).

Over the years, there have been many theories and perceptions to identify a liar. Some of the signs include averting gaze, blinking, nervousness, fake smiles, incoherence in speech, inconsistency in statements, and emphatic language (3).

If you are dealing with compulsive or pathological liars, it becomes important to understand why they lie. Listed below are seven reasons people lie. Take a look.

Why Do People Lie?

1. To Manipulate People

The biggest liars are manipulators. This particular personality is known as a Machiavellian personality. Machievellianists are people who lie for selfish reasons. They resort to compulsive lying by using unethical and socially offensive tactics. This is mainly done with the purpose of achieving a higher status or power in society.

It does not really come as a surprise that the more of this trait you have, the higher is your probability of being a compulsive liar. Also, these people end up using self-oriented beneficial lies a lot more often than they would for protecting others.

People who are generally manipulative are a lot more inclined towards using a situation to their advantage. This is done to achieve precise goals, such as sex, status, love, money, or power, even if they are short-lived. Hence, with this type of lie, there is no other beneficiary – apart from themselves.

2. To Be Socially Desirable

Now, this one is a tricky way to lie in terms of understanding the beneficiary. A socially desirable person is one who wishes to gain more and more acceptance in society. They are continually thinking and wondering if others would approve of them or their actions.

People who lie for a particular benefit are constantly risking their reputation. Their need for desirability is at a much higher risk here, as well. It may be interesting to note that people who want social desirability have never lied enough to reach any sort of significance in statistics.

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