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Monday, September 17, 2012

Headache? Try some 'truth serum'

Statue of Truth (Photo by Colin Rose)
According to Notre Dame researcher Anita Kelly, being dishonest could be one big headache for all concerned.

When half of the 110 participants in Kelly's "science of honesty" study were instructed to cease telling lies (major and minor) for ten weeks, these participants experienced "tangible mental and physical health benefits" that included fewer "headaches, sore throats, tenseness, anxiety and other problems than those in the control group."  This group also reported having improved relationships during the time of enhanced truth-telling.  (Hard saying which came first, the mental/physical health benefits or the improved relationships – but it's a worthwhile "package deal" nevertheless…)

According to HealthDay reporter Maureen Salamon, "Americans average 11 lies per week."  These not only entail the "whoppers about integrity, fidelity or other serious matters," but also include the "little white lies to save face or falsely compliment others."  Is it therefore even possible to progress from spouting habitual falsehoods to being a member of the "Thou shalt not lie" set?  And if so, how?

Rather than omitting white lies only (lies which Kelly contends can also be trouble with a capital "T"), you
might wish to consider reducing (rather than totally eliminating) across-the-board types of lies. That latter goal would not only be realistic, but could also yield the aforementioned benefits.  Kelly noted that some of her research participants were able to reduce their overall lying by exaggerating about their accomplishments
less often and by responding to "sticky" questions with deliberate distractions.

Copyright September 17, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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