Home » Lying and its Impact on Self-Esteem: New Insights from Psychological Research

Lying and its Impact on Self-Esteem: New Insights from Psychological Research

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Lying and its Impact on Self-Esteem: New Insights from Psychological Research

In 2020, three researchers from the University of Twente (Netherlands) conducted a study to explore the effects of lying on a person’s self-esteem. The researchers, Marielle Stell, and her colleagues, published a series of four studies under the name “The Costs of Lying” in order to shed light on the consequences of dishonesty.

The research focused on various contexts, dissecting lies that are white and evil, serious and petty, as well as current and past. Participants in the study were asked to recall typical episodes where deception often occurs, such as in a job interview or when giving an opinion about someone’s new haircut. They were also asked to record the lies they communicated during their daily lives.

The findings revealed that lying leads to significant drops in self-esteem, as measured by a famous test developed in the 1960s by American sociologist Morris Rosenberg. These results were consistent with other similar studies, indicating that lying is associated with worse mental health and increased anxiety.

According to Christian Hart, the director of the Human Deception Laboratory at Texas Woman’s University, avoiding the truth can lead to an increased cognitive load, which in turn triggers stress levels. Furthermore, a meta-analysis released by Harvard and Berkeley universities found that lying leads to an increase in heart rate and the release of cortisol, the stress hormone.

However, the long-term effects of lying are even more concerning. A pathological liar, according to Christian Miller, director of the Honesty Project at Wake Forest University, can experience severe anxiety symptoms due to the fear of being caught and the damage to their reputation. Furthermore, research published in the journal Nature revealed that individuals who lie frequently may experience a decrease in the activity of the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for fear, as they normalize deception.

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Guilt is also a significant factor for dishonest individuals as psychological guilt can prompt them to even more dishonesty, creating a vicious circle of lies that contributes to increased discomfort and anxiety.

Ultimately, the research suggests that lying can have substantial negative effects on an individual’s self-esteem, mental health, and overall well-being. As such, there is a need for further exploration of this topic and the development of strategies to address the implications of dishonesty on individuals’ lives.

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