According to science we are all big, fat liars. One study showed that 60 percent of people can't make it through a 10-minute chat without lying -- in fact, those who lied averaged an impressive three fibs in just that short time. Other research shows that the average person lies at least once a day. And that's not even mentioning politics or online dating.
Why are we so terrible at telling the truth? Some of people are, of course, serial liars or Machiavellian jerks. But most of us actually end up being untruthful in an attempt to be nice. We tell our co-worker her new hairstyle is great when it is anything but. We beg off that questionable date with a falsehood about a sudden emergency. We pretend we're OK with our partner because the alternative conversation just sounds awkward.
In short, we think that a little lying makes life a bit happier, but does it really? A new study suggests honesty might be way more enjoyable than you expect.
Your white lies are holding back your happiness.
To test out how giving up lying actually affects us, a team out of the University of Chicago conducted a series of experiments that asked participants to be brutally honest and then compared their expectations of the experience with the reality. For instance, one group was asked to maintain complete honesty for three days and report back. Another was directed to have a totally forthright conversation on difficult subjects with a close friend while scientists looked on in the lab.
What did all this investigation uncover? "Across all the experiments, individuals expect honesty to be less pleasant and less social connecting than it actually is," reports UChicago News. This echoes other recent research that found expressing gratitude is also less awkward and more appreciated than people think it will be.
All this shows that being genuine and forthright, while sometimes terrifying, really is the basis for authentic connection (as well as productive collaboration). And that authentic connection is the basis for a whole of our happiness.
"We're often reluctant to have completely honest conversations with others. We think offering critical feedback or opening up about our secrets will be uncomfortable for both us and the people with whom we are talking," researcher Emma Levine commented. In fact, honesty makes us happier and our relationships closer.
"By avoiding honesty, individuals miss out on opportunities that they appreciate in the long-run, and that they would want to repeat," she adds.
So if you're still in the market for a slightly delayed New Year's resolution, here's an idea for you: Make it your goal to be a lot more honest this year. Science suggests you'll experience more benefit and a whole lot less pain than you expect.