The effect of lying on happiness

NPO Radio 1, De Nieuws BV
Sophie van der Zee
Erasmus School of Economics

In a radio broadcast on NPO Radio 1, Sophie van der Zee, Assistant Professor of Applied Economics at Erasmus School of Economics, is a guest. She discusses the results of a recent study by US Rutgers University and discusses the forms of and most common reasons for lying.

Van der Zee mentions that her own research, among others, shows that lying generates negative emotions, including stress, anxiety, anger and guilt. The added value of a recent Rutgers University study can be seen in the following conclusion. The moment a participant received more money for his or her lie, guilt increased. This is a novel finding. However, the subjects did not behave more dishonestly as the price they received for doing so increased.

Auction fraud

In cases of so-called auction fraud, people lie by not mentioning defects of a product for sale. In the long run, this can obviously lead to reputational damage. 74% of the subjects in the study lied when they had the opportunity to do so.

Archetypes of lying

Van der Zee roughly distinguishes four ways in which people can lie. First, a person can consciously convey a false image to another person. In that case, the person therefore knows that this image is false. Secondly, someone can withhold information to create an image. It is also possible to make something as big as possible; finally, of course, the opposite is also possible: minimising or trivialising something. In most cases, people lie because they do not want to do something, then because they do not want to talk about something, to influence another person or so that another person does not have to worry. So sometimes lies are also social in nature.

Assistant professor
More information

You can listen to the radio broadcast from NPO Radio 1, 6 December 2022, here.

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