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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Like Lance Armstrong, we are all liars, experts say

Armstrong's lies were just more public and had higher stakes.

From the piece:

Though we profess to hate it, lying is common, useful and pretty much universal. It is one of the most durable threads in our social fabric and an important bulwark of our self-esteem. We start lying by the age of 4 and we do it at least several times a day, researchers have found. And we get better with practice.

In short, whatever you think about Lance Armstrong's admission this week that he took performance-enhancing drugs to fuel his illustrious cycling career, the lies he told may be no more persistent or outsized than yours, according to psychologists and others who study deception. They were just more public. And the stakes were bigger.

"People do it because it works," said Robert Feldman, dean of social and behavioral sciences at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and a leading researcher on thepsychology of lying. "We get away with lies all the time. Usually they're minor: 'I love your tie.' 'You did a great job.' But in some cases they're bigger, and in Armstrong's case, he was pretty confident he could get away with it."

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