Lying to Maintain Privacy

"A little inaccuracy sometimes saves tons of explanation."--Saki

Everyone needs to have their own identity, a sense of themselves.

We value our independence and our autonomy—we cherish the right to make our own decisions. We like the idea of being able to do what we want—of having our freedom without a spouse or partner constantly getting in our way.

man trapped in a birdcageSimply put, no one likes to be controlled and always told what they can or cannot do. We greatly value having a sense of control over how we live. One way we maintain a sense of control or independence is through deception.

Deception helps us protect our privacy– we can make our own choices and decide for ourselves, what we are going to do—and who, if anyone, is going to find out about it.

Deception allows us to maintain boundaries—to keep people out, to keep others at a safe distance, and to assert our freedom (see Cole, Solomon).

For example, when a child sneaks an extra cookie and lies to his or her parents about doing so, such an act often involves more than just a simple act of disobedience. It is a way for children to assert themselves, to take what they want, to make their own decisions, to keep their parents from interfering with their own goals, to establish a sense of freedom from parental control. Lying is often done as a means of asserting one’s individuality and independence (and it also helps kids get cookies). With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that children raised in very controlling environments are often more likely to rebel and use deception to gain some freedom.

As adults, we are no different than children—we lie to our employers, spouses, boyfriends and girlfriends in order to regain a sense of control over what we can and cannot do.

People will often lie about the smallest, most non-consequential issues, just to regain a sense of their autonomy (see invasive questions).