The question central to all lie-detection and deception detection studies is: What is a lie? Without a proper definition of a lie, it would be safe to assume that there would be little relevance of any lie-detection concepts and techniques.
So, what is the definition of a lie? Unfortunately, there does not exist a single, universally acknowledged definition of a lie. There are, however, several working definitions that despite their limitations can be used in the majority of the cases to identify a lie. Here’s a broad list of these definitions:
- A lie is any statement that is not true.
- A person is lying when they assert something to others that they themselves don’t believe, with the intention of misinforming, misleading, or deceiving. This is the most widely accepted definition of a lie among lie-detection experts, psychologists, and social scientists.
- An intentionally false statement constitutes a lie.
- When a person or group conveys a false image or impression, they are lying.
- Practising deception by communicating falsehoods or conveying false impressions can be termed as lying.
- Speaking untruthfully with the intention to deceive or mislead is lying.
- Presenting false information to deceive.
- A deceptive or untrue statement that is deliberately employed to mislead.
- Any false statement that’s intentionally presented as being true is a lie.
- To affect people or situations by communicating falsehoods is described as lying.
- Withholding relevant information from others or misleading them into believing untrue things is lying. Reinforcing false beliefs intentionally is also construed as lying.
The above definitions are applicable to diverse situations and settings, and depending on the nature of circumstances at hand, any of these can be used for the purposes of lie-detection and deception leakage.
Why Do People Lie?
It’s a fact that people lie. There may be pleasant exceptions, but most of us, at one point or another in our lives have lied, and for a myriad of reasons. Understanding the reasons, motivations, and compulsions that make people lie is as important as detecting their falsehoods. It’s only by venturing into the psyche of a liar, and getting to know their real intentions for lying that you can effectively handle their lies, and situations arising from them.
When we move on from defining ‘lying’ and ‘deception’, we are confronted with questions concerning the morality of these acts. Can people lie for good reasons, or is lying always motivated by evil? People’s reasons for lying can be both good and bad, and therefore it becomes even more important that you try to understand the cause behind the action, so that those with their heart in the right place don’t suffer unnecessarily for their well-meaning lies.
Positive and Negative Reasons for Lying
Here’s a list of some of the positive reasons that lead people to lie:
- People sometimes lie to be polite or not to hurt others’ feelings and sentiments.
- People may also lie because of religious convictions.
- Lying to avoid an argument or conflict is common.
- We often lie to protect those we care about.
- Tales at the bar or the office are often laced with lies to be interesting, or to make the storyteller look good.
- We often lie to make others feel good.
- When people flatter others, they often lie.
- People also lie to save themselves from potential humiliation/punishment.
- Many people lie to fit in, and be accepted in social circles.
The above reasons for lying are not aimed at harming others and can largely be viewed as attempts by people to show their concern for others, impress their colleagues, or protect themselves. This is in distinct contrast with the negative reasons for lying, which invariably have other people’s harm in mind.
Below are some of the negative reasons that cause people to lie:
- To steal.
- To misinform and mislead.
- To cause people’s death/s.
- To transfer blame on to others for wrongs they have committed.
- To sell their wares/products dishonestly.
- To avoid responsibilities.
At Let’s-Live Coaching, you’ll find a variety of courses that will teach you the science of deception and help you detect lies by understanding one’s body language.
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