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6 Common Reasons Why People Lie, According to Science

Why people lie is something that all of us want to know the answer to. Nobody likes to be lied to, and understanding why people do that might help us acknowledge what is happening and better manage the situation.

And odds are that you have also told some lies in your life. But why? There are many underlying reasons that lead to lying. According to psychologists and researchers, people choose to be dishonest for many reasons, and some of them are actually pretty common.

Stay with us here on Science in the World and find out why your peers decide to lie to you so often. Are their reasons good enough, or do you think otherwise?

why people lie
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1. To keep their image intact

Everybody wants to be the good guy. Everybody wants to be seen as an amazing person that no one can criticize. Unfortunately, this is not possible. We all make mistakes, and this is completely okay. And many times it is not even about mistakes and wrongdoings; people might just not like us, and again, this is also okay. No one can be liked by everyone.

But people want everybody to love them, and this can lead to lying. There are a lot of reasons why people lie, and this is surely one of them. According to studies, in order to avoid negative evaluation, people might think that lying is the solution. Some people will tell lies to prevent feeling exposed or vulnerable and the associated humiliation.

For example, let’s say that someone dresses nicely and does everything possible to impress the interviewer. Why are they doing this? They want to present a perfect image that might give future employers a good impression of them.

2. Because they don’t want to hurt others

Why people lie is a complex matter, and we should all be aware that even if people are lying, that doesn’t mean they are bad or have ill intentions. After studying the phenomenon for a while, you will realize that, generally, this is not the case, and most people are not lying because they want to hurt others.

Now, we want to talk about the exact opposite; we want to talk about the folks who lie exactly because they don’t want to hurt other people. They think that’s not being honest; even if it’s not the best choice, it can be something that might protect others from various things.

When someone lies in this way, it’s out of care for their spouse or significant other and out of a desire to protect them. We usually experience guilt and remorse when we hurt someone else, and it is obvious that we want to avoid this at all costs.

It doesn’t mean that they don’t want you to know the truth, but they have to make a tough choice: tell you the cold, harsh truth and hurt you, or lie to you and keep you away from the pain.

3. Out of shame

Shame is a big part of our human experience and also a factor that can explain to us why people lie. As soon as we make even the most insignificant mistakes, we start to feel ashamed of ourselves, and we can even spiral down thinking about what others might think of us.

All of us want to be recognized and loved, and nobody wants to feel rejected. We are all searching for acceptance and peace. So, when someone feels ashamed of something, even if it seems unpopular, they might lie because they want to be accepted by their peers.

Because the person who is dishonest feels like they should feel ashamed, they assume that the other person will have a negative opinion of them. Although it makes sense, carrying around guilt only hurts the one who takes it with them. Shame brings out actions that increase doubt and rejection, so better try to be honest.

4. To get something out of it

This is probably the classic reason why people lie. People are predisposed to lying when they want to achieve a personal goal. Be it money, fame, recognition, or a romantic partner, people will lie in order to get what they want.

Maybe at first, it seems not to be a big deal, but once things settle and time passes, these folks might realize that lying was not the best option. People who use lies to control events or other people frequently have just their own interests in mind and do not take other people’s feelings into account, and this is not the best approach because it can easily fire back.

Always remember that when a lie is delivered, it may affect a circumstance or a person’s beliefs. Our actions have an effect on others, and we should always keep that in mind. Even when we want to achieve our goals, lying might actually drag us down in the end.

5. To keep something secret

One reason people lie is because they want to keep a secret. It might be their secret, or it might be the secret of someone else; it doesn’t matter. Usually, there is no problem if people lie on birthdays and Christmas because they organize a secret party or because they tell their kids about Santa, but when lying becomes a way of deceiving people about more serious matters, it might become a problem.

Many people lie about their travels or their purchases with the hope of keeping their actions a surprise. Teenagers lie to their parents when they want to stay out late or hide where they are. Usually, these kinds of lies are obvious, and nobody gets truly mad about them.

But sometimes people may have much darker secrets that they want to keep, and because of that, they are forced to lie.

why people lie
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6. They are a pathological liar

There are some people who are called compulsive liars, and they lie because they lie, if that makes sense. For them, lying is a way of life, and they have been doing it since they were little. And this is a serious problem that is real.

A person who consistently tells lies, sometimes without any justification, is said to suffer from compulsive lying. It is also referred to as chronic lying, pathological lying, and mythomania.

Compulsive behavior has some traits that you can recognize. For example, their lies might sound believable because they have some true elements. Or the lies are meant to put the liar in a positive light. Also, and most importantly, they seem to have more internal motivation than external motivation.

According to the DSM, compulsive lying is not a stand-alone diagnosis, but it is a symptom in many disorders such as bipolar, borderline personality, narcissistic personality, and ADHD.


As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why people lie, and many of them are truly surprising. Some are completely innocent, while others are darker or even pathological.

Culturally, there are some instances when lying is accepted, but even so, lying can have devastating consequences. Broken trust is something that can affect your relationships, and you should be aware of this when you decide to lie about something.

If you want to know how to spot when somebody is lying to you, this book might help you: How to Spot a Liar, Revised Edition: Why People Don’t Tell the Truth…and How You Can Catch Them

You should also read: Scientists Debunked 9 Psychological Traits of the Richest 1%


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