August 11th, 2012| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


You want to be healthy? Eat your fruits and veggies, exercise regularly, … and don’t tell lies!

Anita Kelly, professor of psychology at Notre Dame, presented her “science of honesty” research at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association the other day.

Americans, on average, tell about 11 lies a week, from face-saving little white lies, and diplomatic false compliments, to whoppers that deceive about fidelity and integrity and other serious matters.

But, apparently, if you don’t lie, there are tangible mental and physical health benefits.

Once a week for about 3 months, 110 individuals took lie detector tests and completed assessments of health, as well as an accounting of the major and minor lies they told each week. One half of the group was instructed by researchers 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.” The other half of the subjects received no such instructions.

The no-lying group turned out to be healthier than the other mendacious half. “When they went up in their lies, their health went down,” says Kelly. “When their lies went down, their health improved.”

The benefits are quite specifically quantified: When the no-lie participants told 3 fewer minor lies than they did in previous weeks, they experienced, on average, 4 fewer mental-health complaints (like tenseness and melancholy), and 3 fewer physical health complaints (like sore throats and headaches). The non-deceiving crowd also reported that their close personal relationships had improved and their social interactions had gone more smoothly.

“Not lying was clearly associated with better health for those individuals,” concluded Kelly. This beneficial phenomenon is explained as a result of stress. No lying = less stress. Lying = more stress.

“It’s certainly a worthy goal to have people be more honest and more genuine and interact with others in a more honest way,” says psychologist Robert Feldman of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “That would be ultimately beneficial. I’m a little skeptical that it makes us all healthier, but it may make us healthier in a psychological way.”

Picturing the community of believers in Christ as a body, the Bible is clear about the benefits of truth.

… we are no longer to be children,
tossed here and there by waves and
carried about by every wind of doctrine,
by the trickery of men,
by craftiness in deceitful scheming;
but speaking the truth in love,
we are to grow up in all aspects into Him
who is the head, even Christ ….
… put on the new self,
which in the likeness of God
has been created in righteousness
and holiness of the truth.
Therefore, laying aside falsehood,
speak truth each one with his neighbor,
for we are members of one another.
Ephesians 4:14–15, 24–25

The book of Proverbs reiterates the salubrious effects of truth-telling, equating lying with wounding and honesty with healing.

He who speaks truth tells what is right,
But a false witness, deceit.
There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Truthful lips will be established forever,
But a lying tongue is only for a moment.
Proverbs 12:17–18

Needless to say, God, who is True, hates untruth.

“… speak the truth to one another;
… let none of you devise evil in your heart against another,
and do not love perjury;
for all these are what I hate,” declares the LORD.
Zechariah 8:16

Be healthy!

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