Why do we lie?

  • Level: B2, C1
  • Activity: Agree/Disagree on TPT ($0.99)
  • Language focus: justify/explain a point of view
  • Media: video

Why do we lie? Notice that I didn’t ask if is lying wrong, or whether you consider honesty important–because in both cases, I’m pretty sure you would agree that the answer is “yes, but…” or “yes, except…”. We all lie, a bit, or a lot. The more interesting question is why.

Consider the extremes. Do you remember the comedy Liar Liar with Jim Carry? In it Carry plays the role of Fletcher Reede, a pathelogical liar who ends up being cursed to tell the truth–all the time. Ugly hairdo, need to lose a couple pounds, bad breath, it all comes flying out of Reede’s mouth and needless to say it gets him into a lot of trouble. But it is also very restorative. It urges Reede to express more vulnerable feelings and gain more trust and loyalty.

So let’s try to unpack the issue. Keeping famous movies as a template, let’s say lying can fall into different categories: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. In the Good category, birthday surprises, and hurtful opinions, in the Bad category, making up excuses to miss work or homework, and the Ugly category could contain breaking the law, dark secrets etc.

The point is, how and when we lie can generate an interesting reflection.

Warm up

Do a Mind Map of the Good, Bad, and Ugly lies

The Video: It’s OK to be Smart: Why do we lie?


Use the statements in this handout to discuss some of the key elements of the video.