This might seem obvious, but now there is scientific evidence. A team of researchers in the UK, US and Russia have studied how different levels of “authentic self expression” affect wellbeing and life satisfaction on a sample of 533 volunteers. The findings suggest that being honest is good for most situations, but not at work.
Researchers correlated life satisfaction and wellbeing to levels of authenticity as expressed by the volunteers in a set of questionnaires. They found that usually people are more honest with their partner, and that this is linked to their level of life satisfaction and wellbeing. The more honest the person is with his or her partner, the happier s/he is. Next to the partner are friends and then parents.
When it comes to work, however, the correlation is not so clear, as being honest could have bad consequences for the subject.
‘You hear self-help gurus say that the secret to happiness is “being yourself” or “expressing your true feelings”,’ says Dr Oliver Robinson, from the University of Greenwich and co-author of the study. ‘But that doesn’t seem to apply in the workplace – at least for the sample we studied. So in some circumstances, it may be that a polite smile or tactfully keeping quiet may be more conducive to your well-being than saying what you actually think and feel to work colleagues.’
The study was presented recently at the British Psychological Society, and is pending review for its publication in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. You can see a summary of the paper clicking here.