To some, a white lie is nothing more than a reason or excuse rather than an untruth. The ethical philosophy behind telling a white lie is debated the world over by theologians and philosophers. Each individual must decide if telling a white lie is justified. If keeping someone from being hurt unduly means omitting the truth and no damage comes from the fib, then most people not only feel it is justified, but necessary.To Protect Feelings

While some people who lie want to protect the feelings of others and spare someone else pain or hurt, many people lie to protect their own feelings, self-esteem, self-confidence, or other personal emotion. A woman who says, “I didn’t want that job anyway,” when she really did, is lying to protect herself. A child who yells out, “I hate you!” may be trying to protect himself from feeling hurt or to reject others before he is rejected.


How To Tell When People Lie And Make Them Tell The Truth

When I served as a therapist for a number of years after earning my Masters in marriage and family therapy, I had a window into the private, secret lives of hundreds of people grappling with life’s most serious challenges. I found then, as I see in my daily life and coaching work today, that lying – to ourselves and to others – is a regular part of human existence for so many. I was trained to see the signs of lying, and to find new ways to create a safe space for people to tell the brutal, honest truth to themselves, and deal with it more effectively and positively.

I was intrigued, then, to learn about the new book Get The Truth: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Persuade Anyone To Tell All, by former CIA officers Philip Houston, Michael Floyd, and Susan Carnicero. They are among the most well-known experts in recognizing deceptive behavior and extracting an honest answer.

A follow-up to their New York Times bestseller Spy The Lie,the book teaches readers the simple methods they used in the CIA to get the truth out of absolutely anyone—without resorting to torture. Whether it’s speaking with your teenager about how that dent suddenly appeared in the car, or your spouse about a mysteriously deleted browser history, or your business partner about a discrepancy in the books, their step-by-step guide lays out how to apply these principles to all aspects of our lives.

I asked the authors to share their answers to my most pressing questions about lying, and here’s what they offered.

Kathy Caprino: Why do people lie? What are the top three reasons, and what are they afraid of if they tell the truth?

Philip Houston, Michael Floyd and Susan Carnicero: Here are the top reasons we’ve found:

Because they fear the negative consequences of disclosing the truth.

These are the cases in which people engage in an active concealment of information that’s driven by a fear of what will happen if that information is revealed. The circumstances associated with these lies often involve an act of wrongdoing that the person wants to hide.

Because they want others to believe something about them that isn’t true.

Perhaps it’s a news anchor who claims to have been in a helicopter that was brought down by an RPG in a war zone, when he was actually in a different helicopter at the time. Maybe it’s a job candidate who embellishes his resume, or someone who fibs about his physical attributes in an online chat forum. These are the lies people tell as a means of enhancing the positive image that others have of them.

Because they want to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.

VOX POPULI: Why do people lie? It is not simply because they are cunning

Feudal lord Date Masamune (1567-1636) is believed to have left a set of five precepts known as “gojo-kun” (five virtues). One of his lessons goes: A person relying too much on wisdom tends to tell lies.

It may be a common impression that clever people are devious and often tell lies. A proverb also says the crafty schemer drowns in his own scheme.

It is no wonder that a feudal lord cautioned himself against relying too much on wisdom.

But recent research has found no clear correlation between a person’s level of intelligence and the tendency to tell lies. Science has shown that greedy, creative or tired people tend to tell lies.

I learned some of the latest findings about lying from “Anata wa koshite uso wo tsuku” (This is how you lie), a book by Nobuhito Abe, an associate professor at Kyoto University.

Abe, 40, started his research when he wondered whether people are born to deceive others or grow to become dishonest.

There is no simple answer. Research has found that the human brain functions in a complicated manner that suggests people are born good by nature in some aspects and born evil in others.

“The research is not immediately useful, but I hope to find a mechanism that can explain the complicated nature of the human being,” Abe says.

According to U.S. data, people tell one lie per day on average.

Not all falsehoods are designed to harm others. Some are meant to be kind to others, while others are intended to deceive oneself to forget sorrow.

It appears that people are born with a tendency to always go back and forth between truth and falsehood.

May 24 marks the 385th anniversary of the death of Masamune, who ruled part of the present-day Tohoku region and founded the Sendai domain.

Another of his five precepts goes: A person focused too much on justice tends to become rigid. It seems to mean that people feel uncomfortable if justice is the first and foremost priority.

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