Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 195–210 | Cite as

Telling lies in everyday life: Motivational and organizational consequences of sequential preferences

  • Noelie Rodriguez
  • Alan Ryave


This study of a collection of self-observed lies told in everyday interactions indicated that all informants lied; that lying was, generally, an easy and spontaneous activity; and that our varied informants told lies in much the same manner and for the same reasons. The analysis of the general features of the interactions in which lies were embedded showed that many lies are the consequence of a preference system that promotes acceptance and hides rejection in the sequential organization of interaction. The lies found in “pre-acceptance” and “pre-rejection” sequences indicate that both parties contrive for acceptance. The negative cases of lies told in rejection of deprecating assessments suggest a broader theoretical template that encompasses the lies told for acceptance as a subset of the interactional preference for social solidarity. In contrast to the view that telling lies undermines social cohesion by interfering with trust, this study indicates that many lies are told to affirm affiliation.


Social Psychology General Feature Everyday Life Social Issue Social Cohesion 
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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noelie Rodriguez
  • Alan Ryave
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyCalifornia State UniversityCarson

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