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Two young boys and businessmen dressed in suits and glasses sit at a desk with a homemade lie detector machine. This serious interview is conducted in an office and the machine is predicting a lie from the job candidate. Dishonesty will eventually catch up to you.

The Truth About Lying

The Truth About Lying

I was having lunch with some friends recently and they were telling me this detailed story about how their son had been lying to them for weeks. Snacks were going missing in the house and out of the six children, none of them would confess to eating the missing snacks. Furthermore, while it was obvious the snacks were missing, there was no sign of where they were going. There were no empty drink cans or wrappers in the trash cans, it was as if the items were just vanishing.

This was going on for quite sometime, and all of it was happening while both parents were at home with all of the children. How was this happening?! Their minds were boggled!

So one day while cleaning one of the children’s rooms, a stash of wrappers and trash was found buried behind a dresser. 26 squashed Coke cans. Oreo wrappers, granola bar wrappers. A literal pile of snack wrappers that totaled close to one hundred dollars in snacks. (they made their child divide all of the wrappers into piles, count it up, and then pay for the replacement out of his allowance.) The crazy part was that when they confronted their son and asked, “Are you sure you haven’t been eating the snacks?” He denied it -without hesitation. Furthermore, even upon being shown the evidence, he still would only admit partial responsibility saying, “I did eat some of this, but I never at those…” Deny. Deny. Deny.

So What Causes People to Lie?

I was having a conversation with a friend who is a life coach and I asked him, “What causes people to lie?”  He said, and I’m paraphrasing, research has shown that a lot of the reasons why people, especially young adults and children, is not because of the fear of getting in trouble, but the fear of disappointment. Disappointment is related to shame and when a child feels like they have disappointed a person they look up to, they inherently feel like a bad person.

According to, the reason people lie is slightly different than what my friend mentioned, but I believe there are truths in both statements: “People who lie repeatedly often have a desire to be in control. When the truth of a situation doesn’t agree with such control, they produce a lie that does conform to the narrative they desire.” –

In the video below there is a little more explanation of why people lie and how to spot the “language of lying.”

“On a psychological level, we lie partly to paint a better picture of ourselves, connecting our fantasies to the person we wish we were rather than the person we are…” – Noah Zandan

“We hear anywhere from 10 to 200 lies a day. And although we’ve spent much of our history coming up with ways to detect these lies by tracking physiological changes in their tellers, these methods have proved unreliable. Is there a more direct approach? Noah Zandan uses some famous examples of lying to illustrate how we might use communications science to analyze the lies themselves.” –

Getting to the Truth

If we take the time to understand why someone might be lying to us, then we have a better chance to get to the truth. Honesty is easier when someone feels like they are in a safe space to tell the truth. Shaming someone, especially a young student, is a great way to keep a student from being authentic. Instead, try creating an atmosphere where students feel free to fail and when they tell the truth, reward them for being honest.

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