The Psychology of Deceit
Everyone lies but the rate, objective, and extent of those lies vary among people. Many #TypicalLies are attempts to avoid punishment and they emerged during childhood (“No mom, I did not eat any cookies”) and continue into adulthood (“Officer please, I was only driving maybe 1 or 2 miles per hour over the speed limit”).
People lie for many different reasons and the most typical include exploratory lying, bragging, make-believe, and cover-up. However, lies that aim to mislead or cover-up are the most serious and become more sophisticated as people get older.
The study shows that majority of people lie to cover up past misdeeds or attempts to get out of some unpleasant situation. Some people lie through facial expression such as hiding their anger, fear, sadness, and distress through a smile. In fact, increased blinking, blushing, blanching, and facial sweating are signs of lying.
White lies are falsehoods but often not intended to harm anyone. For instance, if your grandmother asks, “Did I knit your sweater too big?” most us might reply, “Oh, it’s perfect, I love roomy sweaters” just to avoid hurting her feelings. Similarly, we lie to uplift other people’s spirits through flattery such as “You look so sexy in that dress” to boost her confidence about the weight loss program.
Intentional false statements are a moral issue but most people believe that trivial lies are beneficial. In fact, study shows that academic dishonesty in the form of white lies, altruistic lies, and trick lies are common in schools.
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White Lies in the Classroom
“Do you understand?”…”Yes, mam!” Lying is a common occurrence in the classroom, as students tend to avoid social losses by hiding the truth. However, the most typical are lying about his or her understanding of the lesson, the real reason for not doing the assignment, and respond over an irritating reprimand with a poker face.
Some students lie to avoid getting into trouble or doing additional tasks thus often responding with a “Yes Mam!” rather than telling the truth of his or her lack of knowledge. Similarly, it is far more convenient for students to lie about his assignment than to admit that he spent the night out with friends. Most students, regardless of rage over teacher’s reprimand respond with silence and a poker face. This according to the study of students learning and classroom behavior is the negative result of reinforcing classroom teaching with punishment.
Punishment produces a rapid and significant behavioral effect and although such reinforcement can result in permanent suppression of potentially injurious behavior, it can lead to aggression, escapes, apathy, abuse, and imitation of those who punished them. An infuriated student with a poker face is trying to escape or avoid the source of punishment by cheating and lying about his true feelings. Similarly, a student saying ridiculous excuses like “The dog ate my assignment” or copying someone else’s homework is escaping the punishment by lying.
Other students’ escape tactics include flattery, crying, and showing remorse. However, it is important to note that aggression becomes a viable alternative to cheating and lying when escape is no longer possible. In fact, aggression becomes all too common and not always directed to the source of injury such as vandalizing valuable school property and shooting rampage in worse cases.