Honesty is the best policy. and now, it seems, the healthiest as well. Scientists at the American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Convention discussed a study of 110 people, half of whom were instructed to completely stop lying for 10 weeks. The other half, who received no instructions in regards to truthfulness, served as a control. All participants were assessed weekly on health and relationship measures and with a polygraph test assessing the number of major and minor lies they had told that week.
In a presentation, entitled “A Life Without Lies. How Living Honestly Can Affect Health,” Anita E. Kelly, Ph.D. and professor of psychology at Notre Dame, reported that all participants reported fewer mental-health complaints, such as feeling tense or melancholy, and fewer physical health complaints, such as sore throats or headaches, in weeks where they lied less. Subjective reports of physical and mental health were also significantly better, as were evaluations of quality of personal relationships and social interactions. Statistician and study co-author, Lijuan Wang, Ph.D., says that statistical analyses demonstrated that this improvement in relationships significantly accounted for the improvement in health that was associated with less lying.