This week, ahead of Mother’s Day, Interflora published the results of a survey into the “fibs” parents apparently tell their children. The “eating carrots make you see in the dark” or, the one I remember very well, “crusts make your hair curl” claims (mine is straight) are described by Interflora as having “real heritage” in the sense that they are often passed on from generation to generation. Interestingly, by the age of 6, most children begin to work out when they are being told a tall story.
But are white lies really harmless? Robin Dunbar at Oxford University demonstrated through research that “anti-social lying” (lying to cover up things you had done wrong) was isolating and destructive. But other studies suggested that, in certain circumstances, white lies can help strengthen social bonds, like when you compliment someone on their appearance to help boost their confidence. So, next time your finger hovers over that “like” button on Facebook consider your own motivation but remember the warm feeling it will give to the recipient.