Most people are guilty of lying from time-to-time. Whether it’s a little white lie to spare someone’s feelings, or omitting the truth on occasion, we have all been less than 100% truthful. Some people may be pathological liars, meaning they cannot help but lie, and sometimes tell fibs for no apparent reason. Pathological liars may lie to get their way, or to appear as more successful than they actually are. If you’re here, chances are that you’re concerned about some of your lying behavior, and want to do something to manage it. Take the “Are You a Pathological Liar” quiz below to learn if you show signs of pathological lying.
1. Would you feel okay with telling your boss you were seriously ill so that you could go out of town in the middle of the week for a spur-of-the-moment trip?
A. I’d never do this. I feel bad about missing work, even when I am truly sick at home in bed.
B. Yes, I’ve done things like this before. My personal life is more important than my job, and I’m not going to pass up an opportunity to take a trip.
C. If it were a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I might tell a white lie to get out of work, but I’d make sure my work was covered.
2. Someone in your office goes on and on about an accomplishment. How would you most likely react?
A. Congratulate them and move on.
B. I might stretch the truth and exaggerate one of my own accomplishments to stay on par with them.
C. I’d tell a big story about something of my own that I accomplished, even if I had to entirely fabricate it. I don’t like to be outdone.
3. Which one of the following sounds most like you?
A. I value being honest. The only time I’ve ever really lied is when I pretended to like a gift my grandmother got me for Christmas.
B. I occasionally fib to get out of things, like going to a social gathering I don’t want to attend, but lying about something major would make me feel guilty.
C. Sometimes I find myself telling lies for no reason at all; the story just rolls right off of my tongue.
4. If you had to lie to get your way, such as to be approved for an extra day off from work by your boss, how would you go about it?
A. I would craft a grand story about a close family member having surgery, and I’d be sure to give clear details so no one would question me.
B. I would never do this. I’d simply tell the truth about the situation and hope my boss would understand.
C. I might tell a fib about my kids being sick and hope I get away with it.
5. How do you feel when telling a lie?
A. I tend to be a little nervous, and I avoid making eye contact, so I have to hope that no one will pick up on the fact that I’m not telling the truth.
B. I feel so guilty, that it’s obvious I’m lying. In fact, I can’t really tell a lie, because it’s so obvious to everyone around me when I’m not being honest.
C. I am so good at it that others don’t even notice a change in my demeanor. I can tell a lie smoothly without much thought.
6. How often do you make up stories to impress other people?
A. Never. This isn’t something I’d be comfortable doing.
B. There may have been a few occasions where I have stretched the truth just a little if I really wanted to impress someone, such as a love interest, but it’s certainly not a habit.
C. I do this all the time. I want to look successful and important.
7. What is the most complex lie you’ve ever told?
A. One time I told my husband I had paid the phone bill already, when I had actually forgotten it. It was an honest mistake, and it only happened once.
B. I once made up a story about having a serious health problem so someone would feel bad for me.
C. I exaggerated one of my sports accomplishments so that I would look cool in front of a new group of coworkers.
8. On the occasions that you have found yourself lying, what is your intent?
A. To manipulate someone into giving me my way or to look superior to others.
B. To get out of doing something I really don’t want to do.
C. I might fib on rare occasions to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, such as by telling a friend their new haircut doesn’t look bad, when it’s actually quite awful.
9. You find out that a coworker has lied about having cancer in order to get sympathy from others. What is your reaction?
A. I am absolutely appalled! I can’t understand why anyone would make up such a lie, when there are people who are truly suffering from this disease.
B. I wouldn’t think much of it, because I have told similar lies to get people to feel sorry for me.
C. I would find this a little upsetting, but I have told lies myself here and there, so I would wonder what is going on with this person that they felt a need to tell such a huge lie.
10. If you had been on a few dates with someone and were really starting to fall for them, what would you do to win them over?
A. I would be sure to tell them all about my career, and I might even stretch the truth on my income just a bit, so they would be impressed.
B. I would just be myself and hope that they also like me for who I am.
C. I would do whatever I could to impress them, even if it meant telling stories or making up things about myself to make me appear more heroic or successful.