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ORLANDO, Fla. (CBS Tampa) — Who says a little white lie never hurt anyone? Recent research suggests it can affect your health.
A new study conducted by University of Notre Dame researchers found that a person’s mental and physical health improved when they stopped lying to others.
The “Science of Honesty” study – presented at the American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Convention in Orlando, Fla. Last week – concluded that telling the truth matters to a person’s health.
“Recent evidence indicates that Americans average about 11 lies per week. We wanted to find out if living more honestly can actually cause better health,” lead author Anita E. Kelly, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame, said in a press release. “We found that the participants could purposefully and dramatically reduce their everyday lies, and that in turn was associated with significantly improved health.”
The study was conducted over the course of 10 weeks with 110 people, ranging in age from 18 to 71. The people were broken up into two groups: one group that was told to stop telling lies and the other a control group.
Kelly and co-author Lijuan Wang found that the no-lie group told three fewer white lies and experience four fewer mental-health episodes and three fewer physical complaints. On the other hand, when the control group told three fewer white lies, they experienced two fewer mental health complaints and one less physical complaint.
The authors also found that people in the no-lie group reported their relationship improved.
“Statistical analyses showed that this improvement in relationships significantly accounted for the improvement in health that was associated with less lying,” Wang said in a press release.
The findings will be submitted for scientific review and publication for later this year.