Why We Lie

This program is rebroadcast from July 5, 2012.

Why we lie. Why we cheat. Psychology has a new theory of the case.

The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone---Especially Ourselves (cover photo)

The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves (cover photo)

Humans lie.  Humans cheat.  We don’t like to think of ourselves as liars and cheaters.  Most of us resist getting flagrant there.  And yet, we all know how that little fudge factor can creep in.  The little cheat.  The little lie.  And sometimes big ones. Why do we do it?  When do we do it?  And what restrains us from doing it a whole lot more?  Behavioral economist Dan Ariely has been looking deeply into the land of lies.  He’s got some new insight on how we try to do right, when we fail to do right. This hour, On Point:  Why we lie.  Why we cheat.

-Tom Ashbrook


Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University. His new book is The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves.

From Tom’s Reading List

Slate “The unpleasant implication is that you’re probably trusting people you shouldn’t trust. Here Ariely explains how his view of human nature led to a tense confrontation in his dentist’s office.”

New York Times “If a refrigerator in a college dormitory contains cans of Coca-Cola and dollar bills, which will disappear faster? Hints: College students don’t often want to perceive themselves as thieves. And they are often thirsty.”

USA Today “We want to see ourselves as honorable, he says, but we also want to benefit from cheating. That’s especially true when we observe others around us cheating — fudging their taxes, boosting pens from the office supply cabinet, underreporting the number of miles they drive each year for insurance purposes.”

Video: Dan Ariely TED Talk

Check out Ariely’s talk: Are we in control of our decisions?

The copyright permissions for this hour’s book excerpt have expired; our apologies.


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