The Truth About Lying: How Being Honest Can Boost Your Health!

Do you know that lying has a direct impact on your mental and physical health? The “Science of Honesty” revealed that Americans average about 11 lies per week. This shocking statistic led researchers to study whether living more honestly would lead to improved health, and the results were quite surprising.

A 10-Week Study on Honesty and Health

Researchers Anita E. Kelly, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame, and her team conducted a 10-week study involving 100 people. Around half of the group were instructed to stop telling lies, both major and minor, while the other half served as a control group with no specific instructions on lying. Participants were required to visit the lab weekly to complete health and relationship measures, and take a polygraph test to assess any lies told that week.

By the end of the study, participants in the no-lie group shared their struggles and experiences with attempting to be more honest in their everyday interactions. Several participants mentioned that they realized they could be truthful about their daily accomplishments without exaggerating or creating false excuses. Others learned to avoid lying by distracting the person asking a troubling question with a different question in response.

Health Benefits of Living More Honestly

Throughout the course of the study, the connection between less lying and improved health was significantly stronger for those in the no-lie group. To better understand the results, let’s consider the following example: when participants in the no-lie group told three fewer white lies per week, they experienced four fewer mental health complaints, such as tension or melancholy, and three fewer physical complaints, such as sore throats or headaches. However, when control-group participants told three fewer white lies, they only experienced a reduction of two mental health complaints and one physical complaint. A similar pattern was observed for major lies as well.

How Lying Contributes to Mental and Physical Health Issues

When people lie, they often feel guilty, and this guilt can cause stress and anxiety. Moreover, it takes mental effort to maintain lies and keep track of them, which can further burden the mind and trigger stress. Chronic stress has various detrimental effects on the body, such as a weakened immune system, heart problems, and more.

Lying and Relationships

Not only does lying directly affect our health, it can also impact our relationships. Getting caught in a lie, no matter how small it may be, may result in tension, lack of trust, and failure to maintain or commence a relationship. Relationships and social support play a vital role in overall health and well-being, and a lack of these can lead to struggles such as stress, isolation, and even depression.

A Few Simple Ways to Reduce Lying

Here are some practical tips to live a more honest life:

  1. Be mindful of situations in which you tend to lie and prepare truthful responses in advance.

  2. Reflect on your feelings after telling a lie and remind yourself of the potential emotional and health consequences.

  3. Encourage open and honest communication within your social circles and develop manageable expectations in relationships.

  4. Practice self-awareness and self-acceptance. Only then can you honestly communicate your thoughts, feelings, and needs to others.

  5. For challenging conversations, consider writing down your thoughts to create clear, honest communication without the temptation of lying.

The Takeaway

While there’s no such thing as absolute honesty and the occasional lie is almost inevitable, it is essential to understand that a consistent habit of lying may take a toll on our mental and physical health. Next time you feel obligated to deceive, remember that honesty is the best policy for both relationships and personal well-being.