SOURCE: Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC/PsychCentral
Rebecca is a middle school English teacher. Previously she worked in a local public school but was frustrated by the number of daily lies from her students. Thinking the private school environment would be better, she switched. But what she found was even more creative lies that her students would tell her.
One day she decided to count the number of deceptions she heard. Much to her surprise, it wasn’t just the students who were deceitful but the administration, other teachers and parents as well. In all, she counted over 50 lies in one day. This lead to generating a list of the different types of deceit. Here is her list of reasons why people lie.
- Defensive: The most common reason for lying is to self-protect. There might be a real consequence or a perceived one that a person is trying to defend themselves against.
- Vindictive: Some people lie intentionally to cause harm to others because they feel harmed by that person. It is a way of getting back at another person.
- Disappointment: In order to avoid disappointing another person or even themselves, a lie might be told. The uncomfortable feeling of disappointment justifies the deception.
- Manipulate: An abusive person constantly lies in order to continue their manipulation. If the truth came out, the abused might leave.
- Intimidated: Sometimes a lie is done because the person feels intimidated by others. Again, this feeling of inferiority is so uncomfortable that they lie to cover it up.
- Attention-seeking: Unfortunately, there are people who lie just to get the attention of other people. The irony is that most of them don’t know what to do with the attention when they do get it.
- Curiosity: This is a very childlike behavior that some adults don’t grow out of. Instead, they lie just to see what will happen regardless of the harm it might cause others.
- Superior: For those with a larger than life ego and in order to maintain their superiority, they lie to make themselves look better than others.
- Avoid: Some lies are done to get out of trouble or avoid any consequences. This is especially true with children.
- Cover: Some people wear a mask and pretend to be something they are not. To maintain their appearances, they lie to cover up any attempt at revealing the real person.
- Control: Sadly, sometimes it all comes down to control. In an effort to control another person’s behavior, a lie is told.
- Procrastinate: Passive-aggressively avoiding responsibilities is procrastination. This lie is more subtle in that the person knows they should be doing something but is intentionally putting it off.
- Bored: Some people like drama in their lives. So they lie to stir it up and watch the reactions of other people.
- Protect: There are some lies that are done to protect others. In some cases, a lie is told to take on responsibility for things they are not responsible for in an effort to help someone else.
- Habit: After a period of time and done constantly enough, bad habits can form. This is true for some lies that are said over and over.
- Fun: Some people lie as their form of private entertainment. For them, lying is fun because they like to watch how others respond.
- Desire: A person who wants a lie to be the truth has a deep desire to believe their misperception.
- Harm: People who want to harm others undecided, lie about who they are and what they are doing. This is a common tactic during the abduction of others.
- Sympathy: Similar to attention-seeking, a person is trying to get empathy from others by lying about a past or current event.
- Lazy: On occasion, a lie boils down to a person being lazy and not wanting to do the work, so they lie about it.
- Indifference: If a point or issue doesn’t matter to a person, they might lie about it and not see anything wrong with their deception.
- Perception: Some people believe their own lie. Their perception of reality is not accurate so in their eyes, it’s not a lie.
- Elevate: A person might want to elevate themselves to another person’s level high morality, strong work ethic, or perfectionistic standards, so they lie to lift themselves up.
- Impress: As a way of trying to impress others and cause a better impression, a person might lie about who they are, what they have done, or where they are going.
- Covet: When a person wants what other have, they covet the item or person and lie about their jealousy.
- Minimize: As a way of reducing the damage, harm, or consequences that might otherwise occur, a person minimizes the truth in their lie.
- Maximize: On the opposite end, a person might exaggerate their lie and make things worse than what it really is.
- Suppress: In an effort to cover up a problem, a person might suppress the truth. This lie is intentional.
- Deny: Not every person who doesn’t want something to exist by denying the reality, is lying intentionally. Sometimes this is an unintentional.
- Hide: A person might hide themselves, others, or things and lie about doing so as a way to avoid accountability. This is commonly done in conjunction with addictive behavior.
For Rebecca, understanding why a person lies helped her to identify the behavior and more accurately address the underlying issues. She took her frustration of experiencing the lies and turned it into a greater awareness of knowledge and discernment.