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Lying: A Practical Experiment and Reflective Analysis

Practical Experiment: The following exercise is designed to bring a dimension of moral practice and ethical character into sharper focus so that it can be reflectively analyzed and critically evaluated. Your assignment is to go three (3) days without lying. For the purposes of this assignment, we will define lying as the deliberate and deceptive misrepresentation of the truth as you believe it to be. Consequently, the general category of lying includes more types of misrepresentations than an explicit, deliberate, and direct lie. Indirect misrepresentations include deceptive exaggeration and deceptive understatement. These two versions misrepresent the truth by inflating (exaggeration) or deflating (understatement) the facts as you know them. Also, it should not go unstated that a person may lie, not only to others, but also to oneself.

Note Well:
You must put forth a genuine and sustained effort not to lie for three (3) days in order to derive the greatest moral benefit and personal insight from this practical experiment.

Reflective Analysis: At the end of your three-day experiment, reflectively analyze your experience by answering the following questions (typed on separate sheet of paper).

Identify the degree of effort required:

a) very easy
b) moderately easy
c) neither easy nor difficult
d) moderately difficult
e) very difficult

Briefly explain your selection:

1) Why was it easy/difficult?
2) Were you surprised by the degree of effort required?
3) What do you think your level of difficulty reveals about you?

Based on your experiment, indicate the frequency of lying in your life:

a) never
b) almost never (rarely)
c) occasionally (once in awhile)
d) fairly often (regular practice)
e) very often (daily practice)

Briefly explain your selection:

1) Were you surprised by the frequency level of lying?
2) Are you satisfied with this frequency level or would you like to change it?
3) What do you think your frequency level reveals about you?

Are there specific circumstances or conditions in which you are more prone to lie? If so, specify below:

a) family
b) friends
c) intimate other (husband/wife, lover, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.)
d) workplace
e) school
f) strangers
g) other ___________________________________

Briefly explain your selection:

1) Why do you think you’re more prone to lie in the particular circumstance chosen?
2) What personal purpose or individual interest does it serve?
3) Would you prefer to change this situation or leave it as it is? Why/why not?

On a general level:

a) Why do you think you lie? What are your reasons?
b) List some of the reasons why—other than your own—you think other people lie.

Summarize the most significant realization you derived from this practical experiment and reflective exercise (1-2 paragraphs). Why do you consider this personal realization significant?