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Lies a Part of Human Nature

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Everyone lies. In fact, research shows that in the average ten-minute conversation, two acquaintances will lie several times. The reason? The mixed messages everyone receives as children might be one reason. Although we are told never to lie, we see our parents lie about Santa Claus or the death of a pet. Parents say "thank you" when receiving a gift, even when it's unwanted.

Psychologist Paul Ekman explains that we lie for many reasons. For example, we lie to stay out of trouble, to feel better about ourselves, to receive a reward, to protect someone, or to control information. Everything from an exaggeration to a small lie falls into one of these categories.

A New Year's resolution can also be considered a lie, because we generally don't plan to keep the promise. We have only deceived ourselves. Or how about when a friend or colleague asks, "How are you?" That person doesn't want to hear that you're tired, overworked, or have other problems. We lie and say "I'm fine" because of social rules.

Although lies are an important part of society, we can only catch a lie about fifty percent of the time. Some experts suggest that lies actually hold society together.

Preview some of the lesson material:

Brainstorm: Brainstorm with a partner(s) words and ideas associated with "human nature" for 2 minutes. Spend another 5 minutes or less discussing the words and ideas together.

Do you agree or disagree?:

  1. Everyone lies.
  2. Everyone lies every day.
  3. It's impossible not to lie sometimes.
  4. Lying is an important part of society.
  5. I have told three or more lies today.

post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!

  1. How often do you think you lie? Is it too much? Why?
  2. What are some of the reasons you've lied recently?
  3. What's the biggest lie you have ever told? How did you feel afterwards?
  4. What situations would it be better to lie than to tell the truth? Why do you think so?
  5. How would you feel if you could catch lies 90%-100% of the time?

Google Search: Type "human nature" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.

Download the lesson:

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