A new study from researchers at the University of Notre Dame finds that telling fewer lies may benefit an individual's physical and mental health.
The study, which was presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association last weekend, monitored 110 individuals across 10 weeks. Participants were asked to complete weekly health and relationship assessments—and lie detector tests—that assessed the number of lies that they told each week, whether big or small.
The researchers also asked half the study participants to "refrain from telling any lies for any reason to anyone. You may omit truths, refuse to answer questions, and keep secrets, but you cannot say anything that you know to be false."
They found that participants who told fewer lies appeared healthier and happier. Specifically, a participant in the no-lie group who told three fewer minor lies than in other weeks experienced an average of four fewer mental-health complaints and three fewer physical-health complaints.
Linda Stroh—a Loyola University professor emeritus who has researched trust—had this simple explanation: "When you find that you don't lie, you have less stress," she says, adding," Being very conflicted adds an inordinate amount of stress to your life."
Prior research suggests that the average U.S. resident lies 11 times per week (Jayson, USA Today, 8/6).