Tell fewer lies for better health and relationships: Study

Tell fewer lies for better health and relationships: Study

If you think a few lies will not harm anyone, think again!Researchers at the University of Notre Dame claim that telling the truth when tempted to lie can significantly improve a person’s mental and physical health.

“We found that the participants could purposefully and dramatically reduce their everyday lies, and that in turn was associated with significantly improved health,” lead author Anita E Kelly said.

Researchers conducted the honesty experiment over 10 weeks with a sample of 110 people, of whom 34 per cent were adults in the community and 66 per cent were college students.

They ranged in age from 18 to 71 years, with an average age of 31. The just-completed study has not yet undergone peer review.

Approximately half the participants were instructed to stop telling major and minor lies for the 10 weeks. The other half served as a control group that received no special instructions about lying.

Both the groups underwent a polygraph test assessing the number of major and white lies they had told in that one week.

Over the course of 10 weeks, the link between less lying and improved health was significantly stronger for participants in the no-lie group, the study found.

In weeks when participants told fewer lies, they reported that their close personal relationships had improved and that their social interactions overall had gone more smoothly that week, the study revealed.

“Statistical analyses showed that this improvement in relationships significantly accounted for the improvement in health that was associated with less lying,” statistician Wang noted.

The study sample was 63 per cent women. Annual family income for the participants was fairly evenly distributed over a range of less than USD 25,000 to more than USD 160,000.

The findings of this study Science of Honesty was presented at the American Psychological Association.

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