At the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, psychology professor Bella DePaulo got 77 students and 70 townspeople to volunteer for an unusual project. All kept diaries for a week, recording the numbers and details of the lies they told.
One student and six Charlottesville residents professed to have told no falsehoods. The other 140 participants told 1,535.
The lies were most often not what most of us would call earth-shattering. Someone would pretend to be more positive or supportive of a spouse or friend than he or she really was, or feign agreement with a relative‘s opinion. According to DePaulo, women in their interactions with other women lied mostly to spare others’ feelings. Men lied to other men generally for self-promoting reasons.
Most strikingly, these tellers-of-a-thousand-lies reported that their deceptions caused them a little preoccupation or regret.’ Might that, too, be a lie? Perhaps. But there is evidence that this attitude towards casual use of prevarication is common.
Think how often we hear the expressions ―I‘ll call you‖ or ―The check is in the mail‖ or ―I‘m sorry, but he stepped out.‖ And then there are professions—lawyers, pundits, public relations consultants—whose members seem to specialize in shaping or spinning the truth to suit clients‘ needs.
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