Think telling a little white lie is harmless? It turns out, all those little fibs could be doing more harm than you think. In fact, you might even improve your mental and physical health if you cut back on the bad habit!
Researchers from the University of Notre Dame studied 110 adults, asking half of them to stop lying for 10 weeks, though they were still allowed to keep secrets, omit the truth, and dodge questions they didn’t want to answer. The other half just had to report the number of lies they told each week.
Both groups reduced their lying, but those who were told to stop lying improved their health more than the other group. When people in the no-lie group told three less lies a week, they reported four fewer mental-health complaints (e.g. feeling sad or anxious) and three fewer physical complaints (such as headaches or sore throats). The control group also improved their health from an overall reduction in lying, but only by two or three complains.
“We found that the participants could purposefully and dramatically reduce their everyday lies, and that in turn was associated with significantly improved health,” said Anita Kelly, study author and professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame.
But that’s not all: Those who couldn’t lie said that their personal relationships improved and that other social interactions had been easier.
In other words, little white lies may not hurt the recipient, but they’re certainly not doing the teller any good! Do yourself a favor, and just tell the truth.