How many white lies do you tell a day? More than you’d like to admit? Probably, yeah, but you shouldn’t be ashamed; it actually reveals something very positive about you.
New research has shown that people with a certain personality trait are more likely to spew white lies than those who do not. According to the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, people who tend to tell white lies are more compassionate, because they don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings.
White lies—or to call them by their scientific name, “prosocial deception”—are actually more innocuous than the word “lie” indicates. They are tiny fibs that slip into dialogue constantly, such as “Your hair looks great” or “Sorry, I already have plans tonight.” They are intended to save face and appease people, and are particularly appropriate in the workplace.
MUST-SEE: What’s Your Bedtime Ritual?
According to the research, there are two types of “prosocial deception”—one to promote positivity and encouragement and one to prevent upset. It has even been suggested that people who tell white lies maintain stronger relationships as they are concerned with encouraging the people they love by sparing them harsh truths.
Of course, telling white lies in abundance to be a people pleaser is a tad manipulative, but according to relationship expert Susan Orenstein, Ph.D., telling white lies is an act of kindness that benefits both parties, and is inevitable when building relationships with new people.
Antisocial lying, however, is on a bigger scale and should be considered completely separately. It is when someone will tell a lie that doesn’t benefit anyone but themselves and is maliciously deceiving, i.e. lying about stealing or lying about cheating on a partner.
So, ultimately, lying is bad, but telling white lies (let’s call them courteous utterances, shall we?) shouldn’t make you feel guilty. After all, if your best friend is upset, you’re not going to fill her with anything but affirmations and encouragement—and whether what you’re telling her is completely true or not isn’t relevant!
This post was written by Ellie Wiseman. For more, check out our sister site Grazia.
NEXT: Interested in learning more about yourself? Your eyebrow shape reveals a lot of hidden personality clues.
Eyebrow Shape Intro
Picking an eyebrow shape that's right for your face can brighten your look--and reveal clues about what career and personality you might have.
Eyebrow Shape Kelly Ripa
A wonderful communicator, you bring people together easily, whether you're hosting a gathering of loved ones at home or helping with a team project at work.
Eyebrow Shape Teacher
A nurturing communicator, you make a great teacher, speech therapist, social worker, nurse, HR professional, or physical therapist.
Eyebrow Shape Beyonce
If your eyebrows are dramatically arched, you very likely have an intense, expressive personality.
Eyebrow Shape Interior Decorator
Great careers for your expressive flair? A job as an interior decorator, food or fashion stylist, photographer, or hairstylist.
Eyebrow Shape Jessica Alba
Straight eyebrows mirror your focus and steadiness. Poised and in control, you're a natural problem solver.
Eyebrow Shape Veterinarian
As a focused problem-solver, you'd do well as an office manager, accountant, bookkeeper, paralegal, or veterinary technician.
Eyebrow Shape Charlize Theron
You're likely refined and sophisticated. Whether you're putting together a killer work outfit or spearheading a gourmet PTA bake sale, you do it all with style.
Eyebrow Shape Party Planner
You're a discerning perfectionist, so great jobs for you include party planner, personal shopper, chef, and makeup artist.
Eyebrow Shape Sofia Vergara
Bold and independent, you value your freedom. Whether you're setting your own hours on the job or taking a solo trip, you enjoy making your own rules.
Eyebrow Shape Park Ranger
You're confident and independent, ideal for a career as a park ranger, small business owner, freelance journalist, travel agent, or professional blogger.