Do I Look Fat In These Jeans?

AKA Lying May Generate Trust

By In Weekly Email 5 Minute Read Time

Do I Look Fat in These Jeans? 

How many times has a wife or girlfriend asked that to their beau?  Of course, the answer to that question affects the life expectancy of the brave men who decide to weigh in with their opinion.  Okay, maybe not life expectancy, but the relationship or night or next couple of nights always hang in the balance.  Wrong answers to this can turn off the sexual spigot for months.

So, we all know that a Boy Scout never tells a lie.  But what should one do in this situation? Well, two University of Pennsylvania scholars (smart f*cking people) give us all hope in some recent research published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Making Processes.  They got all cute with the title–“Pro-social lies: When deception breeds trust” and if you want to fork out some Benjamins, you can get the article here.  It gets complicated but they ran some true experiments.  You know, the stuff you see in laboratories with random samples and fancy analysis.

Lying may actually generate trust

Living in a bed of lies may not be so bad after all.  Put one in the win column for deception!  What they found is that pro-social lies, or lies that are meant to preserve the feelings of others (and that often avoid conflict, by the way) generate far more trust than does telling the truth (you’re fatter than miss f*cking piggy).  Believe it or not and you can believe their regression analysis, telling pro-social or “kind” likes actually generates more trust than being honest.

…But the kind of lie matters

This stuff is kinda important because it means that sometimes lies are better than the truth at building trust.  But it’s the kind of lies that matter.  Big, bold, jumbo, fat-ass lies that are meant to protect you and advance your selfish and devious interests will never make someone want to trust you more.  But if you’re lying for good reasons like being a bit nice or kind, what the authors cite as benevolence, those intentions matter and that’s a lie worth making.

So, to keep it simple, lies that are meant to benefit others like when the wife or husband (as we’re gender neutral here in the Kimono) makes another horrible pot roast and asks how delicious it is, has only real one answer.  And that’s, ‘I’ll take seconds’.  But lies that benefit your sorry ass and aren’t meant to preserve the feelings of others kinda means that you’re a piece of shit and that you’re on the fast track to destroying trust.  Not good.  So, lies may not always be so bad.  They’re different.  So, of course, the answer should always be—you look great in those Jordache jeans.

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