Why do we Lie?

Why lying is so often a product of fear

This was an answer I wrote on Quora here

I think lying comes down to one word : Fear

Most of the lies I see are a direct result of fear:

  1. What if I tell this person the truth? Won’t he/she think I’m boring / weird / whatever?
  2. What if i tell my boss the truth? Won’t I be in trouble?

Greed is another cause – but I’ll say this is an indirect result of fear.

Lying – such as taking a bribe or selling a fake product or writing nonsense online pretending to spout wisdom

  1. It’s directly because of greed: A desire to make easy money / get attention / anything
  2. It’s indirectly fear: because you’re afraid to live without that money / attention, so you’re willing to lie for it.

These “bad” lies are also linked to self-esteem.

Someone who doesn’t mind becoming a liar so long as they get a little attention or money or manage to avoid being scolded by their boss or being thought of as different by their peers.

If you think highly of yourself, you’ll probably feel ashamed that something so insignificant is worth more than you not becoming a liar.

And even “good” lies are driven by fear in a way.

Lying to avoid telling an old person about their child’s death or the well- known example of lying to save a Jew from the Nazis

  1. It’s still a fear of the consequences – what will happen if I tell the truth? Someone will suffer.
  2. Is it “right”? That’s a completely different question. And obviously, there’s no one answer.


vishal kunwar

Sir, i saw ur forum ias mock papers and you have put so many datas and facts in every answer of GS 3…can u plz share the sources through which u collected the datas,how many days it took to collect and how u memorized it and enriched ur answers with it.
And plz also share ur strategy/books for GS 4.


I’ve uploaded a file called Stats and Schemes in the Useful CSE links page.
Data was mostly googling or in the news compilations.
Remember only a few for each topic – whichever sticks in your mind.

GS4 – Lexicon only.
Ethics – standard frameworks to answer the questions.

Anuradha Tiwari

You are awesome sir…you are my inspiration…I will be going in first year of college in this year and I want to prepare for UPSC.. I want to be an IAS…
Sir how should I do that …how should I proceed I dont knw anything about the preparation….pls share some tips…so that I could Clear exm at frst attempt….

Guru Sharan

Sir I have become a Habitual Liar and can’t control lying about my insecurities. I don’t feel like the other person should know about that stuff. Am Doing right or should I try to be more Truthful in conversation?


Your choice.
I would guess you’re afraid what others will think of you hence you lie.
No one really thinks about you as much as you think they do – if you tell them the truth I doubt anything much would happen.

Guru Sharan

Yes Sir, I am afraid that my past would put me in bad light and I might loose respect from that person. So I find lying an easier escape. But this is getting serious and I have started lying where it is absolutely unnecessary.

Hitakanshi Ghoshal

You have a precise take on significant questions.
It is true that lies hurt and accountability is a natural consequence but empathy for why the lie was spoken helps in soothing that hurt and giving chances again.

Ragini Rawat

I think one of the reason for us lying is also because of the increased complexities of our surroundings.Think of the time when were young. As a kid, there wasn’t a lot revolving around us & our life used to be simple. On top of that our brain wasn’t fully developed at that time for us to comprehend the consequences of our action or speech.. so we would just straight up say whatever comes first in our head which would obviously be true only. But as our socialization happened along side the full development of our brain too (Frontal cortex- the part of brain responsible for cognitive skills – becomes more rational as we enter our early 20s)… we started understanding the realities of how things actually function around us simultaneously w/ our brain getting better at comprehending the consequences of our actions.. and we started to lie to make things more simpler and help us get through complex situations easier.