There’s nothing wrong with a little white lie occasionally–it’s the big ones that bother us. But there’s justice in the world: It turns out that liars are LESS HEALTHY than the rest of us, and that telling the truth when tempted to lie can significantly improve a person’s mental and physical health.

Psychologist Anita E. Kelly says, "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. We found that the participants could purposefully and dramatically reduce their everyday lies, and that in turn was associated with significantly improved health." This is doubtless because lying causes stress and stress leads to lots of nasty diseases.

The researchers gathered together a group of over 100 people of all ages and told half of them to stop telling major and minor lies for the 10 weeks. The other half served as a control group that received no special instructions about lying. Both groups came to the laboratory each week to complete health and relationship measures and to take a polygraph test assessing the number of major and white lies they had told that week.

When participants in the no-lie group told three fewer white lies than they did in other weeks, they experienced on average about four fewer mental-health complaints, such as feeling tense or melancholy, and about three fewer physical complaints, such as sore throats and headaches. In contrast, when control group members told three fewer white lies, they experienced two fewer mental-health complaints and about one less physical complaint. The pattern was similar for major lies.

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