Now you know why Republicans in Congress seem to outlive and out-think Democrats (certain notable exceptions to the contrary notwithstanding). But that wasn't in the study. Anita Kelly, a psychology professor at the University of Notre Dame did a ten week study on 110 individuals. They were ages eighteen to seventy-one. Each took a polygraph test which measured the number of major and minor lies they told that week. The lies were then correlated with health and relationship standards.
Says Dr. Kelly: "When they went up in their lies, their health went down. When their lies went down, their health improved." Half the study group was given specific instructions telling them that they could leave truths out, refuse to answer a question, and keep secrets. But they were also told they could not lie. The other half were simply given the questions without instructions.
Those in the "no lies" group did some lying anyway, but as they progressed, they told fewer. And there was a correlation between decreased fibs and increased health. When these participants told three fewer minor lies in one week than they did the week before, they experienced four fewer mental complaints and three fewer physical complaints (not heart attacks or anything like that, just feeling tense or blue or experiencing sore throats or headaches).
For the "say anything" participants, there was a direct correlation between the lies and the illnesses, and no improvement or decline in health over the course of the study. On the other hand, the "no lies" group made some of those mental calculations themselves, lied less and less, and felt better and better. Professor Linda Stroh at Loyola of Chicago said that she had gotten very similar results in a study on trust and trustworthiness, which included telling the truth along with the trust issues.
I'm not sure how much change in health can truly be measured in a ten week study, but both professors seem quite confident of their results. Of course my mom or my pastor could have told them the same thing, and it wouldn't have cost a dime. Amazingly, these and other studies show that Americans lie on average about eleven times a week. The bigger the lie, the greater the effect on health.