The Ways We Lie: Reasons and Mechanisms

  • Discussion Question: Lies are surely an integral part of our life – be it an innocent tiny lie or a crime involving disinformation. However, different people treat the fact of lying in a different way – hypocritical people may reject the fact of lying and state that they never do this. Others may accept lying under particular circumstances. Nonetheless, it is the human nature that dictates us telling a lie in some cases when we feel this will be comfortable for us, will save our reputation or will help us achieve the desired.
  • Of course, Ericsson is right saying that we all lie but it is wrong to say that it does not hurt anyone – it is better to say that it does not only under certain circumstances. It is ethically incorrect not to distinguish contextual lies that may be just a trifle and may absolutely well not hurt anyone, and grave, black lies intended for doing bad to others. Thus, it depends, and the main purpose of ethics lies in defining the measure of impact of the lie on other people and, consequently, deciding whether it can be justified or not.
  • Essay Component Discussion: structure of locating kinds of lies is predetermined by peculiarities of human perception of their lies. However, it seems to be appropriate to make some transformations: stereotyping may be united with groupthink and represented as one of its types; dismissal and delusion are also highly similar, so they may be united with a set of remarks.
  • Thesis: it is necessary to identify the reasons for lying in order to understand hidden mechanisms of its creation to be able to look at the fact of lying from another angle.


Lying has always been a part of everyone’s life, no matter how he or she perceives and treats this fact. Lies are present in everyday practices, be it a white lie or something grave and unpleasant. There are many particular types of lies and all of them are dangerous in their own way. However, the point of the present paper is dealing with stereotypes and their characteristics. Stereotypes are usually inaccurate, often negative, and always dangerous.

They emerged historically through a long-lasting process of simplifying human perception of complex phenomena, and nowadays they still function successfully, despite the fact that inefficiency of the majority of them has been long ago proved. They have their own peculiarities as compared to other types of lies, so these peculiarities have to be thoroughly considered in order to help people avoid them in future.


Speaking about the contemporary reality, the most widely spread stereotypes that have been formed historically concern the following groups of people: disabled, overweight, elderly people and teenagers; welfare recipients; housewives and immigrants. It happened so because of their being the most vulnerable and differing groups of population living a different life, particularly in many aspects as compared to the life of regular people.

However, what distinguishes them from all other people is that they are treated extremely negatively. Disabled and overweight people are not guilty of belonging to such categories, but the fact remains a fact: disabled people are neglected and avoided as people try to avoid being next to them or communicating with them for the fear of becoming like them; overweight people are despised for their excessive eating no matter what the reason of their obesity is.

As for teenagers, welfare recipients and housewives, they are considered lazy and incapable of anything, as they do not work and are supported, either by the government, or by their relatives. Immigrants are not liked because they take the work from native residents, and this stereotype is justified by their being ignorant, having bad living conditions and sanitary standards etc. Elderly people are considered too time- and money-consuming as they cannot take care of themselves, and they are also seen as intrusive, boring people trying to teach others life.

The system of stereotypes working is very complex and at times concealed, as some kinds of stereotypes have evolved in different –isms (as, for example, racism) so they are prosecuted by law (Kirszner and Mandell 499). However, other stereotypes, though being as well dangerous and negative, are not prosecuted, and sometimes are even facilitated. Thus, people who fall into the mentioned categories of population are despised, treated in a light-minded and unserious way, and sometimes even openly mocked.

Stereotyping as a kind of lie differs much from other types of lies, which nevertheless does not make it less harmful and misleading. Omission, out-and-out lies, groupthink, dismissal and delusion are all highly dangerous and do not involve any good consequences.

Omission and groupthink are similar to stereotypes because they are also based on false assumptions that are taken for granted and are not seriously thought over, even if information about the point being wrong is provided. Out-and-out lies are also similar to stereotypes by the fact that the person taken the responsibility off him- or herself stating that it is not he or she who has invented it, consequently they cannot be accused of being liars. Dismissal and delusion may correspond to stereotypes in the fact that people do not accept the objective truth as it is, being guided by their personal biases.


To sum everything that has been said up, it is necessary to admit that lying in general cannot be justified by any arguments in general; however, people try to do this on an everyday basis, deciding for themselves that generalization helps in life. However, it is necessary to beware stereotypes, as they are stale, in contrast with people they are directed at. Life changes and people should change together with it, so stereotyping gradually becomes obsolete and may cause much greater inconvenience and offence to people they are directed at.


Kirszner, Laurie G., and Mandell, Stephen R. Patterns for college writing tenth edition. Bedford Books, 2006.

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