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06/07/2022 | Portraits and stories

What drives me - Nina Reinhardt

PhD students from Kassel and their topics

Image: Sofie Althoff

Nina Reinhardt (29) Lying in romantic relationships.

"The food tastes especially good today!" Sentences like this we probably all know, and whether it's true or not - praise makes us feel good. So lies, whether in romantic or close friendly relationships, are not something abstract. They can be observed in real life and are an important aspect of our life together. My dissertation brings established findings of research on human lying into the relationship context. Using self-report questionnaires answered by people in established relationships, certain patterns of behavior can be identified. Whereby statements people make about themselves can always be a bit distorted, since no one wants to portray themselves badly. In the (online) dating context, it is especially important to convince potential partners about oneself, which often results in so-called "impression management lies." The lies differ in that men tend to lie about salary, status and height, for example, and women tend to make themselves look thinner and younger. So stereotypes are clearly being served here. In existing relationships, both partners know much more about each other, which is why the type of lie changes. The closer the relationship, the more likely "other-oriented lies" occur, which can even have a positive effect. For example, praising your partner's food even though you didn't like it can avoid arguments, which leads to mutual satisfaction. It seems paradoxical, but lying (which doesn't hurt anyone) can have a positive effect on relationships. Studies show that in romantic relationships we lie one to three times a day. This is interesting because many people would say of themselves that honesty is important to them. Absolute honesty would lead to unhappiness and arguments in some places, although it is generally believed that it is more the lies that cause arguments. So if we are honest with ourselves, we find that some lies also positively influence social interactions.

This article appeared in the university magazine publik 2022/2. Minutes: Sofie Althoff