People lie to seem more honest, study finds

The research suggests that people will lie to keep up appearances, or to maintain a good reputation.

(CNN)Believe it or not, people lie in order to maintain a good, honest reputation -- even if it hurts them to do so, or means they lose money.

At least, this is what a team of scientists are suggesting, with evidence to prove it.
To join in the game, picture this scenario: You drive frequently for work and can be compensated for up to 400 miles per month. You also know that the people you work with typically drive 280 to 320 miles each month.
    This month, you drive exactly 400 miles. How much of that do you think you'd claim in your expense report? All 400, you say?
    A team of scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of Chicago and the University of California, Los Angeles asked this exact question to 100 adults in the US in a study published Thursday in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. The researchers found that 12% of respondents underreported the distance they drove, giving an average answer of 384 miles.
    The team also asked 100 separate adults in the US what they would report if they'd driven 300 miles, and they all told the truth. (Well, almost all of them, as their average answer was 301.)
    So people in the first group lied about their mileage, even though they would lose money they were owed. The researchers believe this was to come across as honest, with the assumption being that others would be suspicious of a high expense claim.
    "Many people care greatly about their reputation and how they will be judged by others, and a concern about appearing honest may outweigh our desire to actually be honest," explains Shoham Choshen-Hillel, senior lecturer at the School of Business Administration and Center for the Study of Rationality at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
    "Our findings suggest that when people obtain extremely favorable outcomes, they anticipate other people's suspicious reactions and prefer lying and appearing honest over telling the truth and appearing as selfish liars."
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