Why do people lie? The simple answer: it’s easy. Virtually everyone lies, and most people are pretty good at it, according to TruthAboutDeception.com. Evidence suggests that most people learn to lie at a very early age. Starting at about three, children will lie to avoid getting into trouble. By age five, when it comes to dodging punishment, most kids are expert liars.
Interestingly, children must be taught to lie to protect another’s feelings, said Gail Saltz, a New York Presbyterian Hospital psychiatrist, in an MSNBC article. Parents teach children how to tell these white lies early in life. For example, “Tell Aunt Betty she looks great in those jeans.”
This example highlights that lying to protect someone else is more difficult, said TruthAboutDeception.com. It is natural for people to lie to protect themselves and cover for their mistakes. But covering for some one else is a little more of a stretch and requires a little more practice. But by the time most people are adults, lying is second nature.
For adults, lying serves purposes other than avoiding punishment, although most adults have tried lying to get out of a traffic ticket or other more serious infractions. Robert Feldmen, a University of Massachusetts psychologist, said in a LiveScience article that adults want to control how others see them. And they want to control how they see themselves.
According to Feldmen, people will lie to appear more agreeable and to impress others in a social situation. In effect, they want to elevate their self-esteem. “Once their self-esteem is threatened, people will li – immediately.” They will lie about the kind of car they drive, where they live, and how much money they make.