It is said that little white lies don’t hurt anyone, but actually they may be bad for your health, according to new research. Telling fewer lies brings better health and also improves relationships, the authors of the study say.
Professor Anita Kelly, main author of the study and researcher at the University of Notre Dame in the United States, presented the findings last week at the American Psychological Association’s 120th convention. Along with Lijuan Wan, PhD, she conducted a 10-week experiment on 110 people with an average age of 31 (ranging from 18 to 71 years old).
Half of the subjects were told not to lie during the 10 weeks, while the other half were asked to do as usual. Once a week they had to take a polygraph test regarding the number of lies they told, as well as complete health and relationship measures.
‘Recent evidence indicates that Americans average about 11 lies per week’, says Professor Kelly. ‘We wanted to find out if living more honestly can actually cause better health.’
According to the results of the study, people in the ‘no-lie group’ saw improvement in their health linked to telling fewer lies. They reported on average four fewer mental-health complaints (like stress or melancholy) and three fewer physical-health complaints (such as sore throat or headache).
This also had an impact on their relationships, as stated by co-author Lijuan Wan: ‘Statistical analyses showed that this improvement in relationships significantly accounted for the improvement in health that was associated with less lying.’
Now the study will be reviewed for publication later this year.
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