In his book, “The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves,” Dr. Dan Ariely recounts an experiment that measured how faking a little thing in our lives affects us. In the experiment, three groups of people were given real, designer sunglasses. One group was told that they were true, designer glasses. Another group was told nothing about them. The last group was told that they were knock-offs of the real thing.
The people were told to walk around examining posters and looking out windows to evaluate the quality of the sunglasses. Once done, they were also instructed to take a simple test, and were given the opportunity to cheat on it without the researchers seeming to know about it.
Those who thought that they were wearing knock-off glasses (pulling a slick lie on society) were over twice as likely to cheat on the test at the end, and those who were given no information had no statistical difference in cheating compared to those who were told that they were indeed wearing the real McCoy.
What do we learn from this? Little lies, or living a little lie, makes us much more susceptible to engaging in bigger lies. That “little thing” taints our self-image so that we are more likely to lie more. Or as Luke 16 notes, it’s often true that
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”