By Ruthie Greenock
Are you a good liar?
Do you tell your kids everything’s fine, as it’s all turning to caca? Does her bum REALLY look big in that?
Compassionate people are more likely to indulge in little white lies, intended to smooth over interactions and soften the truth.
These are what scientists call “prosocial lies,” told for someone else’s benefit. Lies told for personal gain are therefore called “antisocial lies.”
More than just a theory of mind, prosocial lying requires the ability to identify suffering (empathy) and the desire to ease that suffering (compassion). It also involves anticipation of how our words may cause suffering with hypothetical reasoning.