Why We Lie: The Psychology of Deception | Vikas Bharti | Psychologist

WHY WE LIELies. We all tell them, from harmless white lies to elaborate whoppers. But what compels us to deceive others, and ourselves? The psychology behind deception is complex, driven by a mix of social, emotional, and even evolutionary factors. One primary reason we lie is for self-protection. We might bend the truth to avoid conflict, punishment, or embarrassment. Imagine calling in sick to avoid a tedious presentation. This “protective lie” shields us from negative consequences. Deception can also be about image management. We crave social approval and may lie to maintain a positive image. This could involve exaggerating our accomplishments or downplaying our mistakes. It’s a way to ensure we’re perceived favorably by others. Interestingly, lies are often told for the benefit of others. We might whitewash the truth to spare someone’s feelings. A classic example: telling your friend their outfit looks great even if it’s questionable. In these cases, social harmony outweighs complete honesty. Our evolutionary past may also play a role. Deception, in a limited way, could have been advantageous for our ancestors. Perhaps a well-timed lie helped them avoid danger or secure resources. Over time, this ability to deceive may have become ingrained in our social interactions. It’s important to remember that not all deceptions are created equal. Malicious lies intended to harm are obviously detrimental. But understanding the various reasons why we lie, from self-preservation to social cohesion, sheds light on the complexities of human behavior.