White Lies Essays

Can anybody say “Throughout my life, I have never told a lie”? The answer is absolutely “No, I lied before,”or “I lied many times that I can not remember the number of lies”. Nobody can imagine a person who is completely truthful. In most of the incidents, people in fact do not understand that they tell a lie. Lies are so common place, they almost seem like the truth. Actually, it seems like a truth to the eye of the liar because liar’s world accepts it as a truth. We all accept our own truths in our own worlds. However, lies are not very harmful or serious problems. In addition to this, telling a lie is sometimes more appropriate than telling the truth. In my opinion, it is sometimes better to lie than to tell the truth.

First of all, it is sometimes better to lie than to tell the truth so that we do not hurt others. Some people will feel disappointed, frustrated, or upset if the words from other people aren’t the wanted words that these people expected. They will built castles in the air about everything before the conversation, but unexpected words during the conversation will collapse their castle, in other words, thier desires and dreams. For example, imagine that you are going to have a meal at your close friend house in one evening. During the evening, you may not like the dinner that your close friend serves. What would you do? Of course, you mustn’t say “ Your meal is irritating and I hate it”. This would be very rude. Instead you should try to be more polite. Although you don’t like the meal, you should say “I like your dinner tonight, your dessert and the other courses are the most delicious ones that I have ever tasted”. After meal, you will see that your friendship will be strengthened, and your friend will behave more respectful to you since you will have said the things that he/she wanted from you. The other example is that you can motivate somebody by telling a lie instead of hurting . Imagine again that you are teacher, and there is a student who is unsuccessful. Other teachers think that this student has no intention to study hard. Also, his heart was broken because he thinks that he hasn’t got any speciall skills and talents. In this case, our behaviour to student must not be hurtful. We can tell him a lie -to motivate him- like, “Tom -George, Amelie, Ali, Veli-, your performance has been increasing in these days, I hope that you will be a good student in the future”. This words which comes from our mouth will impress the attention of this student to courses. Besides, we will not hurt the student’s feelings. By the way, even he/she could be successful in his/her courses. (Moreover, there are many researchs about telling a lie to the students. According to research result, the way I explained you is the best way that teacher can conduct over students. For example, in one experiment, scientists chose a classroom at the first class of elementary school, and they always said the students in this classroom “You all are very intelligent and succesful”. Although they were not intelligent, they begun to believe that they were intelligent. As a result, they finished the courses very well. From all of these, we can understand that as a teacher, we can motivate students by telling a lie.) Final example is that lovers may not hurt their partner’s feelings by telling a lie. The partnership always needs respect and mutual understanding (respectiveness). Naturally, if they want to be understanding, they will have to tell a lie. For example, our partner has given a gift to us. Unfortunately it isn’t the gift that we expected. If we say him/her “I am sorry, but this kind of gift is not appropriate for me.”, we will absolutaly break our partner’s heart. On the other hand, we will say “Oh dear, this is the gift that takes place in my dreams. I like it very much”, then you can look at your partner’s eyes. They seems very pleased. As a result, your relationship goes on more vigorous than it used to by telling a little white lie. In brief, people can make other people by telling a white lie instead of breaking their heart.

In Addtion, it is sometimes better to lie than to tell the truth so that we don`t have to do something that others want. Sometimes we will get confused because of the hardness of the life. In that time, we will think that no one can make us do something. As a result, we will tell a whlte lie to get rid of other people desires. For example, one night your friend calls you and said ‘’I want to go out tonight, would you like to come with me?’’ Although you feel so good in that night, , you don`t want to go out with him/her since you don`t like him/her. There is only one way to reject your friend offer and it is telling a white lie. You can say ‘ I`m very sorry, but I am not avaible to go out becuse I feel upset and tired. In the afternoon, I have to work hard in my office’’, or you can say "I am afraid, I can't accept your offer. I feel not good, but on Friday, I am available to go out" . After telling this white lie, your friend will be persuaded and you will solve this problem without breaking his/her heart. The another example is that you can tell a lie not to do things that you don`t like. For example, suppose that you don't like to go cinema in a sunny day, but your friends want to watch "X-Men 2". Instead you want to go open air cafe or place. You can tell a little lie like "I heard that the germs of SARS comes from the dark place like cinema, theatre, etc..." After that, you can add "The open air places will be more appropriate than cinema. We should go to the cafe to taste the pleasure of the sunny day.

All in all, as you see telling a lie will be appropriate and inevitable as a solution of some problems. With telling a lie we can manage our relationship and keep the friendship. There are many ways to tell a lie in some events, and telling a lie is more profitable than telling the truth. In my opinion, sometimes our lives are full of lies and the real becomes a lie with not telling the truth. The truths can be changed and there is no person who says "I have never told a lie". If he/she says "I have never told a lie" , we can understand that he/she is a real liar.

Melih Sözdinler

A degree of lying—you know, white lies—seems to be inherent in all languages and all forms of communication. Matthew Lesko

For all that we value honesty, people still lie for a variety of different reasons—and much more frequently than you might think. According to one 1996 study using diary-based research, participants admitted to lying on an average of once or twice a day. That same study showed that lying can usually be classified as either self-centred (lying for one's personal benefit) or other-centred (lying for someone else's benefit).  

This kind of other-centred lying, also known as prosocial lying, typically occurs as a way of avoiding unpleasant situations or to spare the feelings of whoever is hearing the lie. These "little white lies" are often regarded as being relatively innocuous and a necessary part of many social interactions.   

But is this kind of prosocial lying really harmless?  And what motivates us to be dishonest with people? A new research study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology—General explores these questions in detail. Matthew Lupoli of the University of California-San Diego's Rady School of Management and a team of fellow researchers conducted three studies that provide an intriguing look at the role that compassion often plays in prosocial lying and what it says about human social behaviour.

The first study was conducted using a sample of over 400 university students who were asked to provide private ratings of an essay written by an individual from another university with whom they had been paired (but who was really a confederate of the experimenters). The supposed purpose of the essay was for the writer to show why he or she should be admitted to a graduate program. The participants were asked to rate the essay in terms of writing quality as well as whether the essay should be included as an example of good "off the cuff" writing (not prepared in advance). They were also provided with the writer's initials, "C.G" and an introductory paragraph and then told to rate the essay according to set scoring criteria in terms of overall quality. The essay itself had already been deliberately written to be low-quality and had been verified as such by other raters.

After giving their initial private evaluation of the essay, each participant was subjected to an experimental manipulation intended to either make them feel compassion for the writer or a neutral condition. This involved having participants read a message intended to describe something that had recently occurred in the writer's life. Half the participants read a message describing the recent death of a cousin with whom the writer had been particularly close. The message was written with the same grammatical and spelling quality as the original essay but still conveyed the emotional distress "C.G." was feeling. The neutral condition just described a recent shopping trip.

Participants were then asked to provide direct feedback to the writer about their essay. To ensure they were as honest as possible, participants were also provided the following instructions: "Your feedback is important. Each writer in this project must decide whether they would like to rewrite their essay before submitting it into a contest in which they can win a small prize that we will hold at the end of the semester. So, the information that you provide will help the writer improve his or her essay." They were also asked to rate the essay's overall quality, make recommendations about necessary changes, and also to rate "C.G.'s"  likely success as a graduate student.    

Results showed that participants who reported feeling compassion for "C.G" due to reading the story about his/her recent loss were much more likely to pad their estimates of the essay quality than participants in the neutral condition. Also, participants were much more likely to be more honest in their evaluation when the ratings were private than when they were shared with the writer. When asked to rate C.G. on other qualities, participants in the compassion condition were much more likely than those in the neutral condition to see him/her as being more agreeable, warm, likable, and trustworthy. They also rated C.G. as being more likely to be female than male.   

In looking at these results, the researchers established that prosocial lying was most likely to occur due to the fear of causing emotional harm with negative feedback. Even when other factors such as the emotional state of the rater were taken into account, the link between compassion and lying seemed particularly strong.   

As a further test of the compassion-prosocial lying link, Lupoli and his colleagues conducted two additional studies. The first of these studies involved looking at trait compassion, i.e., were people who were more compassionate more likely to lie than less compassionate people? Using a sample recruited using Amazon's Mechanical Turk platform, the prosocial lying task was repeated only this time for rating essays by other Mechanical Turk workers though the procedure was changed to reduce possible experimenter effects.  

Participants were also tested on two measures of empathy and trait compassion and were also asked to rate how important they felt it was to prevent their fellow worker from being harmed by negative feedback. As expected, results showed that people high in trait compassion were more likely to inflate their ratings. In particular, people high in compassion were also more likely to report concern over possible harm that might occur due to their feedback and were more likely to lie as a result.

As for the final study, the researchers changed the research design to compare prosocial lying to selfish lying (lying for personal gain rather than for the benefit of others).  A sample of nearly 500 university undergraduates completed a structured personality inventory before being assigned to one of two groups. The first group viewed a slideshow and film on child malnutrition while the second group viewed a neutral film.    

All participants then completed a cognitive task requiring them to press one of two keys indicating whether there were more dots on the right side of the screen or the left. For the selfish lying condition, participants were told they would be paid more money if they indicated there were more dots on the right side of the screen "because most people can easily identify the number of dots on the left side.” For the prosocial lying condition, participants received the same information but were instead told that the money would be donated to a charity for malaria victims. They were also provided information on the charity including the work they did to combat malaria.   

As expected, participants in the compassion condition who viewed the child malnutrition film and slideshow were significantly more likely to lie about their responses to benefit charity though it made no difference for selfish lying. Even when personality traits and emotional state were taken into consideration, the link between compassion and prosocial lying seemed as strong as ever.

So, what can we make of this research? While we are trained to value honesty and to treat lying as dishonourable, we still seem inclined to resort to lying as long as it's in a good cause. As Lupoli and his fellow researchers point out, people who feel compassion for others seem remarkably prone towards lying, whether to avoid hurting other people's feelings or to promote the welfare of others.  

Though these three studies highlight how common it is to engage in prosocial lying, it also raises questions about how far we are really likely to go with this kind of deception. Are we more likely to lie to friends or strangers?  For that matter, what if our lying is potentially more damaging than the truth in the long run (as it often is)?

While more studies looking at prosocial lying are needed, it seems clear that compassion plays a much greater role in everyday social lying than you might think. Whether or not honesty is really the best policy, the need for "little white lies" to avoid hurting others is something that most of us simply take for granted. That caring for other people can often mean lying to them just seems like another of life's great ironies.


Lupoli, M. J., Jampol, L., & Oveis, C. (2017). Lying because we care: Compassion increases prosocial lying. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 146(7), 1026-1042. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000315


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