We all lie. Sometimes to your girlfriend about her new hairstyle, or maybe to coworkers when talking about our college adventures. White lies like this may seem innocent, but researchers from the University of Notre Dame found that lying could be hurting your health.
In a study, presented at a meeting of the American Psychological Association, researchers followed over a hundred people for 10 weeks. Half of the people were asked to tell the truth more often—cutting back on both major and small lies. The other participants didn’t receive any instructions about lying.
Throughout the study, lying less was linked to better health, especially for the no-lying group. During the weeks in which people lied less often, they had fewer mental and physical complaints—like feeling tense or sad, or having a sore throat or headache.
People also reported having better relationships when they were telling fewer lies, and their social interactions went more smoothly.
The study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, so the results are still preliminary. Still, the researchers found a strong connection between people telling the truth and staying healthy.
If you want to feel better today, stop exaggerating about imaginary accomplishments and start getting real. Telling the truth doesn’t mean that you have to share all of your inner secrets, though. Some participants in the study learned to deflect sensitive questions by distracting others with another question.