New Research Shows Honesty Is Good For Your Physical And Mental Health

By Staff Reporter on August 6, 2012 9:59 AM EDT

George Washington
Washington (Photo: wikipedia)

George Washington lived until he was 67. That seemed short by today's standards, but life expectancy back in the 18th century was only in the mid 50s. Perhaps his longevity was the result of his honesty?

At least that's what a new report is claiming. Researchers at the University of Notre Dame found that telling lies, even small ones, could damage your health. 

To come to the conclusion of their report, researchers asked a study group to stop telling lies for 10 weeks. In that time, the participants' physical and mental health improved drastically. Even their social interactions became better. 

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"We found that the participants could purposefully and dramatically reduce their everyday lies, and that in turn was associated with significantly improved health," says lead author Anita Kelly in a news release. The veteran Notre Dame psychology professor has done various studies on human nature before. 

Kelly and her assistants essentially split her 110 research subjects into two groups. One was told to stop lying completely, while the other were not given instructions to stop (although they knew the study was about not lying). They were then tested every week for ten weeks. 

For both groups, telling fewer lies in a week was led to improved health. But the link was significantly stronger for those consciously trying to avoid lies, the researchers said. They had fewer physical complaints, such as sore throats and headaches, and fewer mental health complaints, such as feeling tense or melancholy.

Overall, the no-lie group did tell fewer lies and, by the fifth week, they said saw themselves as more honest than they were before.

Although few could have guessed honesty would lead to drastically improved health, it is common knowledge that lying leads to stress, which is detrimental to health. 

There are skeptics though. Psychologist Robert Feldman of the University of Massachusetts told USA Today he's a bit skeptical that honesty could improve physical health, but he believes it can help mental health. 

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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