Day 456: Mexican Wave of Lies

This post continues from my previous post - give it a look over if you haven't already.

Assuming that deception is an all-too-common aspect of social life, what are its effects? As you might guess, they are largely negative. First, recent findings (eg, Tyler, Feldman, & Reichart, 2006), indicate that when people find themselves on the receiving end of lies, they react with mistrust of, and disliking toward, the liar. In fact, the more lies a stranger tells, the more these people are disliked and the less they are trusted. Further, and perhaps of even greater interest, after being exposed to someone who has lied, most people are more willing to engage in such behaviours themselves. Evidence for such effects is provided be research conducted by Tyler, Feldman, and Reichert (2006).
These researchers gave participants in their studies information about another person - information indicating that this person had lied during a videotaped interview. (Participants watched the videotape, so they knew the stranger had lied.) Some lies involved exaggerations (eg, the liar said that he had been an honour student in high school when this was not true) and others involved minimizations (eg, the liar indicated that his academic record was worse than it really was). Moreover, they varied the frequency of lying, so that the liars engaged in deception only once or four times. When participants rated the liars, they gave lower scores for likeability and trustworthiness to the frequent liars and to the liars who had exaggerated rather than minimized their own achievements. This suggests that some lies are indeed worse than others. Now, here's the most disturbing finding of all. After these procedures, participants in the study had a brief conversation with another person (an assistant of the researchers). During this discussion, participants who had observed frequent lying on the videotape now showed greater tendencies to lie themselves than those who had observed only one or no lies at all. Together, these findings indicate that not only is lying ethically wrong, but it also undermines the quality of social relations perhaps because it tends to spread from one person to another. It seems possible that such effects contribute to the kind of scandals that rock large corporations from time to time. Lying by the top people in these companies encourages unethical behaviour by many others, sometimes with disastrous results. - Social Psychology (Twelfth Edition) by Robert A Baron, Nyla R Branscombe, & Donn Byrne

We do not think for ourselves. We are forever following the mob.

This is our nature, to copy what we see others doing. We want to fit in.

We want to be like other people. That way we increase the chances that we will be liked.

We may have morals and principles of our own that we think we should live by. But these morals and principles are subject to change as per our adaptable natures.

We are hardly ever even aware of what we're thinking and doing. We don't know why we feel the way we feel.

We think we know. We think we know ourselves.

We know nothing. We only follow.

We do not direct. We get caught up.

We act in contravention of our conscience. We do things which will never bring us pride.

We bring ourselves shame. Consciously and with awareness.

We actively choose to make choices that will bring harm to someone. Sometimes we don't care.

Mostly we choose to put those choices out of our minds. What we don't think about won't haunt us.

Right? Right.

How can we be honest? We don't know how.

How will we change the world if we don't dare to change ourselves - this apathetic tendency to follow the leader? Who will be a leader and demand integrity?

Does anyone even care. Hopefully.

Probably not.

I care.

Do you?


  1. Cool.
    "who cares" isn't even a question anymore. It's more of a confirmation that we don't care as usual.


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