Honesty: An a.m. Policy



To tell you the truth, I’m going to tell you the truth about new research out of Harvard University regarding honesty. And if you’re looking for your best chances of getting a healthy dose of honesty from someone in your life, you need to confront the issue in the morning.

As odd as it might seem, the research determined that morals are an A.M. thing and people are more likely to lie and cheat as the day progresses. In fact, the research indicated up to 44% of an increase in lying later in the day than in the morning.

Time Passing

Time Passing

Maryann Kouchaki, Ph.D, the coauthor of the Harvard study found that as the day wears on, and we deal with normal activities, the amount of self-control the average person possesses is depleted. As this occurs, it is more likely they we will resort to behaviors that are dishonest and not hold up to the moral standards we start our day with.

A long time ago, I learned it is not good to make any major decisions if we are feeling too lonely, too tired or too hungry. With this in mind, it doesn’t surprise me that the study also found fatigue and hunger contribute to the descent of standards and morals we try to uphold. So, it is more likely that a person who is very tired or very hungry will lie, than one who has just eaten a balanced meal or had a good night’s sleep.

In a study last year performed out of the University of Buffalo, it was found that spending time with someone we like, can have a positive impact on our level of self control. Combining this with the Harvard research that indicates our self-control is triggered and depleted from a specific part of the brain that is ‘happy’ when it is well-fed and well-rested; and we can come up with a recipe for boosting self-control.

It seems sort of crazy when you play it out. Imagine a partner who is seriously considering cheating on their mate. I’m thinking a bowl of comfort-type-food like chicken soup or chili with a good friend and a twenty minute nap before noon, and their marriage can be saved!

But on the serious side, it does ring true to me that there is a type of energy we release to exhibit self-control and that this energy gets used up at times when we don’t keep up our supply. Just like the likelihood of catching a cold increases when our resistance is compromised, so it is that way with our moral compass and self-control.

People Eating Together

People Eating Together

So, sleep well, eat up, and surround yourself with good friends and people you like, and you’re likely to tell the truth more often and be a better person.

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!


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