Why Some People Lie for No Reason

Some people appear to lie for no apparent reason. In fact, they appear to gain nothing by doing so. All they seem to achieve is the risk of losing the trust of those around them. Why do they do it?
Why Some People Lie for No Reason
Sara González Juárez

Written and verified by the psychologist Sara González Juárez.

Last update: 24 November, 2022

We’ve all told lies. It’s an indisputable fact. You probably remember doing so yourself on more than one occasion. In fact, although honesty is an essential moral value, it’s possible that, in certain circumstances, you accept the action of lying. However, what about people who lie for no reason?

Sometimes, it’s difficult to differentiate between an individual who often lies from another who suffers from mythomania. This is a condition that involves compulsive lying. These people don’t suffer from any psychological alteration. This makes it more difficult to understand their reason for lying since there seems to be no need or origin behind it.

As with almost everything in psychology, there are reasons that explain this behavior. We’re going to explore them.

Man crossing his fingers
Mythomania is the tendency to lie compulsively.

Lying versus mythomania

Lying isn’t essentially bad. For instance, you might lie so that your friend doesn’t find out about the surprise party you’re planning for them, or to get rid of someone from your life who you know will only bring you bad luck. It’s simply one more form of social interaction and, as such, it’s possible to use it either for healthy or harmful purposes.

On the other hand, there’s a disorder called mythomania when an individual lies compulsively. The stories that they invent aren’t entirely improbable and don’t respond to specific pressures. In these cases, the individual struggles to relate to others.

When the custom of not respecting the truth doesn’t respond to a need or pathology, it results in an absurd situation, when people lie unnecessarily and continue with these fabrications.

Why do people lie for no reason?

These people don’t lie to avoid punishment or to appear more attractive, nor do they receive any reward for lying. So why do they do it? There are reasons, but they usually respond to internal dialogues and mental processes in the liar’s mind. In effect, they’re seeking emotional balance, thus improving their self-perception. However, these reasons are rarely observed if the relationship with the liar isn’t deepened.

1. The need for approval

This is one of the most frequent motivations for lying. But in this particular case, there’s no real pressure from the environment to provoke their lying. Yet, despite being in a social circle that accepts and welcomes them, they continue to feel that they need to win the approval of others. That’s why they lie. 

2. They give importance to the contents of their lies

This situation goes rather deep. Let’s say an individual lies to their friends claiming that they have a lot of money even though, in this social context, economic status is unimportant. When the friends find out the truth, they’re shocked. After all, they’re all of similar economic status and they’ve never shown any admiration for others with more money than them.

However, the lie has nothing to do with the pressure of the environment, but with the internal judgment of the liar themselves. For them, having a lot of money is one of the facets that makes someone successful, and they want to be successful. So they lie, even though the lie has no effect outside their own mind.

3. Feeling of lack of control

It may seem absurd, but made-up stories are under the control of the storyteller, not reality. For this reason, when telling, for example, an anecdote, modifying it, or relaying it in a ‘fantastic’ way, the liar takes control of the narrative and its events.

In addition, they avoid any details and facts that could go against them (according to their own criteria).

4. Today’s invention is the continuation of yesterday’s lie

Sometimes, the lies they’ve told have been going on for a long time and are already far removed from reality. In fact, the longer their chain of lies goes on, the more difficult it is to break.

5. Saying what they’d like to be true

Although it may seem unlikely, repeating a lie many times can end up turning it into a collective truth. For this reason, many people relay certain facts and aspects about themselves reflecting how they’d like to be in reality. Although in most cases, there’s no need for it, it’s a way of transforming reality in their own mind.

Man being suspicious of his friend
Many people lie to compensate for disgust or dissatisfaction with their own reality.

6. They don’t see it as a lie

The reality we speak of consists of messages that have passed through filters of physical perception, mental processing, and memory capacity. These processes interact with the outside, so the result is usually further from true reality than we appreciate.

Therefore, it’s normal for the testimonies of two different people to be totally divergent in the face of the same fact. That said, on these occasions, it might seem that you’re facing a person who’s lying unnecessarily. However, before judging, remember that we all understand each other by speaking. Therefore, it’s possible that this uncertainty could be fixed with a sincere conversation. After all, the only truth we really know is the common lie that we all perceive through our senses.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.