(NOTRE DAME, Ind.) — It may seem like conventional wisdom, but telling the truth on a consistent basis can make you healthier, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.
With recent evidence showing that Americans tell an average of 11 lies per week, psychology researchers at Notre Dame were curious about the benefits of living a more honest life. They found that the fewer fibs you tell, the better you sleep at night, and that lying less was also tied to better relationships.
Lead researcher Anita Kelly says that in the small study of just 110 people, ranging in age from 18-71, those who purposefully avoided lying for 10 weeks experienced fewer physical and emotional complaints.
“Feeling blue, feeling anxious, having trouble falling asleep and that sort of thing. Those are the kinds of mental health complaints they were reporting having fewer of those when they lied less,” Kelly said.
Interestingly, the researchers also noted the ways in which people attempted to avoid lying such as avoiding troubling questions by distracting with another questions. It turns out that lying by omission or avoidance and telling those “little white lies” can also take their toll if they cause stress, they found.
“So it was very clear that … that lying less was linked to better health for our participants,” Kelly said.
This study was presented at the American Psychological Association meeting and has not been peer-reviewed.
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