The Truth Hurts, But So Does Lying

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From telling a friend that their dish is delicious, to falsely blaming absences on a busy schedule, lying has always been a natural response during uncomfortable situations. In “Learning to Lie” by Po Bronson and “Is Lying Bad for Us?” by Richard Gunderman, the authors delve into some of the reasons behind lying and how lying impacts people. Both articles share a negative sentiment towards lying but differ slightly in their view of the causes of lying.

Gunderman and Bronson both agree that lying has negative repercussions. Dr. Victoria Talwar, an expert on children’s lying behavior, says that children are more likely grow into lying than they are to grow out of it (qtd. in Bronson 549). With this information, Bronson shows that the more often children lie, the more habitual lying becomes to them. As a result, when they find themselves entangled in other problems, especially those in which they are at fault, their natural response for handling those situations is to lie. Gunderman shows the negative effects of lying by using a study that compared a group of people who were told to lie, and another group that was not told to. What the researchers found was that the people who told fewer lies reported less complaints of headaches and feeling tense (559). With this, it shows that the guilt and repressed feelings that come with deception are harmful to people’s health. So, the constant use of lying has negative impacts because it turns lying into a habit and is strenuous on people’s mental and physical health.

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Another idea both authors share is that people should not lie. Gunderman argues it is necessary for people to know the truth because lying tends to “distort our own view of reality” (560). By telling the truth, people avoid the illusions that dishonesty creates and can perceive what is truly happening around them. Not lying is how people will be able to live, what Gunderman calls, authentic lives (561). Bronson shows that people should not lie by using an example of the relationships between parents and their children. Researchers interviewed teenagers in Pennsylvania and found that families that were truthful with each other also had more arguments (Bronson 554). Though verbal disagreements were more frequent, family members were able to better understand each other because they voiced their honest feelings. On the other hand, if teenagers lied and withheld information from their parents, it would not only build distrust, but also distance them from their parents. Overall, people should not lie because it taints their perception and damages their relationships.

Gunderman believes that people lie for selfish reasons. In his essay, Gunderman mentions that some people avoid hotel same-day cancellation fees by lying that they need the reservation moved to a later date, and then cancel their newly made reservation (559). In this example, Gunderman shows that people selfishly lie to the hotel so they can avoid having to pay a fee. There are also people who use lies to manipulate others for more daring purposes, like wealth, power, and status.

Bronson does not disagree with Gunderman. In fact, Bronson gives an example by using a scenario of a three-year-old boy who lies about hitting his sister (549). In this case, the boy realizes that if he admits any wrongdoing, he will be punished. So, to protect himself from getting into trouble, he tells a lie. However, Bronson thinks selfishness is only partially why people lie. He argues that people also lie because they are taught to at a young age. Bronson talks about how parents instruct their child to “swallow all his honest reactions and put on a polite smile” when opening gifts (552). In cases like these, parents are unintentionally teaching their children to lie. With their parents encouraging these lies, children then continue to lie in similar circumstances because it is what they have been taught is the right thing to do. Both authors agree that people lie out of selfishness, but Bronson also argues that people lie because it is instilled in them from a young age.

The articles show that Bronson and Gunderman have different opinions about why people lie, but they both agree that lying has negative repercussions and should not be done at all. However, because of how common lying has become, it leaves the impression that perhaps these ideas are just that: ideas that will not be enforced in society due to the normalcy that has become of lying.

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The Truth Hurts, But So Does Lying. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 16, 2024, from
“The Truth Hurts, But So Does Lying.” Edubirdie, 16 Jun. 2022,
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