When You Lie, You’re Likely to Think Others Are Lying, Too


Aug 8, 2019


Lies have always led to more lies, as we all know. New research supports this belief; it has found that often if you have been lying or making up stories, you’ll assume that others are also doing the same. It explains that if you’re being dishonest, you are most likely hampering your ability to accurately read other people’s emotional states, also known as ‘interpersonal cognition.’

The findings of this research are useful especially in office and workplace settings, the researchers said.

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“Given the rise of group work in organizations, there’s a heightened awareness of the importance of understanding others’ emotions,” said Ashley Hardin, lead researcher and assistant professor at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, in the university’s newsletter. “Also, a person’s ability to read emotions is crucial in negotiations and in building relationships.”

Therefore, lying ends up harming interpersonal relationships because it comes in the way of detecting others’ emotions even when they are not in the wrong.

Researchers came to this conclusion based on eight studies that gauged 1,500 people and the different circumstances under which they had lied.

They found that there is a “causal relationship” between a person’s dishonest behavior and their ability to empathize with another person’s emotion. They also found that when people are more socially sensitive, they are less likely to behave in a dishonest way.

Researchers measured participants’ social activity through vagal reactivity — a standard physiological measure of compassion and empathy with the suffering of others.

Hardin said, “When individuals are lacking their physiological capacity for social sensitivity, they may be more susceptible to the social distancing effects of engaging in dishonest behavior.”

She added, “It can be a vicious cycle. Sometimes people will tell a white lie and think it’s not a big deal. But a decision to be dishonest in one moment will have implications on how you interact with people subsequently.”


Written By Anubhuti Matta

Anubhuti Matta is an associate editor with The Swaddle. When not at work, she’s busy pursuing kathak, reading books on and by women in the Middle East or making dresses out of Indian prints.


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