Telling lies may give you bad karma, if you believe in that kind of thing, but it can also lead to physical and mental health problems, according to new research.
A study from the University of Notre Dame in the US has shown that those who tell the truth are noticeably less stressed, happier and less likely to experience common cold symptoms such as headaches and sore throats than those who lie.
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Truth tellers also have better relationships and smoother social interactions, the UK's Daily Mail reports.
The study followed 110 people between the ages of 18 and 71 for 10 weeks. Half were told to stop telling both big and small lies, while the other half were given no instructions about lying.
Over the 10 weeks, all participants underwent weekly lab assessments with polygraph tests to determine the number of lies they had told. On top of this, the tests also examined the overall physical and mental health of the participants.
The study found that the participants told not to lie experienced four fewer mental health complaints and three fewer physical ailments than the control group.
While some participants found it easy to avoid lies and exaggeration — about things like daily achievements and reasons for being late — others revealed that it was easier to avoid dishonesty through answering a distressing question with another question, rather than a lie.
"Statistical analyses showed that this improvement in relationships significantly accounted for the improvement in health that was associated with less lying," said study co-author Professor Lijuan Wang.
The authors noted that the average person tells 11 lies per week.
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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," co-author Professor Anita Kelly said.
The study was presented at the American Psychological Association's 120th annual convention in Florida this week.