Source: ThinkPublic/Creative Commons As one who studies deception for a living, I am often asked why some people seem to lie a lot. That question always seemed like a fair one to me. We can all immediately recall examples of lying politicians, corrupt businessmen, conniving lovers, and duplicitous coworkers. These deceivers grab our attention because their dishonesty is so far outside the norms of society. We feel fortunate that these big liars are rare, with most people in our communities acting just like us—honest. But not long ago, another question crossed my mind: Why are most people so honest? Sure, there are some big liars out there, but most people are honest most of the time, even when being dishonest might help them get ahead. Why, when lying and deception often would allow one to gain an advantage, would honesty be such a central feature of human nature? The tendency to be honest with those around us seems so pervasive that it is almost as if the tendency is baked into human psychology along with sociality, curiosity, language, and other nearly universal traits. Researchers have recently begun to explore this question from an evolutionary perspective. Competing Goals When two individuals interact,… Read full this story
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