Why to Prioritize Honesty in Your Life

Pami Parker

This article defines honesty and describes its related values.

Defining honesty is a little strange, because it is one of those things that seems very simple – honesty is just telling the truth, right? And at the same time, when we try to get more technical, definitions of honesty often become a list of things that an honest person does not do.

​ So how can we concretely define honesty? Honesty is the characteristic of being a person who presents the facts of the situation accurately.

Honesty is important because society only really functions if we can generally assume that other people are being truthful, and they can assume the same of us. In fact, most of us develop an internal sense of guilt and shame when we are not honest for just this reason – if we are continually dishonest, we will eventually be identified as untrustworthy and lose our social standing.
Not only our reputations are at stake; without honesty, we cannot build or sustain healthy relationships with other people. At the same time, it is clear that consistent honesty can deepen and strengthen relationships. People who are honest by nature are higher in self-acceptance, feel more connected to others, and experience more growth and get more meaning out of life  – all characteristics that could make it easier to keep being honest. Indeed, being honest is important because people who are recognized for their honesty are seen as more desirable and likable.

As important as it is to be honest for our well-being, it is hard to stay honest when faced with any challenges. Psychology experiments show that when people feel pressured and when there is no accountability for their behaviors, they are more likely to lie. It seems that when the threat of being caught is low or when we fear a negative outcome from our honesty, we are likely to let go of this important trait.


For examples of honesty, we return to the “thou shalt not” behaviors (Miller, 2020):


Again, honesty is most important when there are significant consequences for obscuring the truth. An honest person tells the truth even when there will be negative consequences for doing so. Most of us lie to avoid such a negative consequence.


Academic dishonesty is a great example here. When people plagiarize, they are being dishonest; in effect, they are saying, “I did this work” or “this was my idea” when those statements are not true.


Honesty means following the rules. We find it harder to follow the rules when the rules seem unfair or are not things we willingly agreed to.


When we make commitments, we are honest insofar as we follow through on those commitments. Making commitments we do not intend to uphold is a classic example of dishonesty.


Omitting some information or telling people only the parts of a situation that they want to hear, is a form of dishonesty, too.

In Sum

Honesty is a simple concept, but it is difficult to consistently implement. The reality is that our lives are replete with moments of potential conflict, whether within ourselves or between people, and being honest in those moments takes courage and effort. We can all aspire to be more honest in our lives, while still being gracious with ourselves for the moments when complete and outright honesty is just not quite possible. This growth mindset around honesty can help us stay out of shame and motivated to build our practices of honesty.


      Abeler, J., Becker, A., & Falk, A. (2014). Representative evidence on lying costs. Journal of Public Economics, 113, 96-104.

      Miller, C. B. (2020). Motivation and the virtue of honesty: Some conceptual requirements and empirical results. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 23(2), 355-371.

      Pruckner, G. J., & Sausgruber, R. (2013). Honesty on the streets: A field study on newspaper purchasing. Journal of the European Economic Association, 11(3), 661-679.

      Regan, P. C., Levin, L., Sprecher, S., Christopher, F. S., & Gate, R. (2000). Partner preferences: What characteristics do men and women desire in their short-term sexual and long-term romantic partners? Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 12(3), 1-21.

      Shalvi, S., Eldar, O., & Bereby-Meyer, Y. (2012). Honesty requires time (and lack of justifications). Psychological Science, 23, 1264–1270.

      Visser, B. A., & Pozzebon, J. A. (2013). Who are you and what do you want? Life aspirations, personality, and well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 54(2), 266-271.

Since the emergence of online learning, there has been a discussion on whether online classes are better than traditional classes. There have been competing schools of thought with valid arguments for and against both.

In the case of distance learning, it may be most appropriate at colleges and universities. Research data consistently indicate that students strongly prefer distance education.

Distance learning allows students to balance their other commitments more effectively, at least in cases they are adult learners, commuters, and part-time students. They don’t believe that they sacrifice a quality education for the convenience of utilizing distance learning.

However, both traditional and online learning comes with advantages and disadvantages. When is online learning more convenient than traditional learning? This blogpost indicates the real potential of online learning versus traditional classes.

What is Online Learning?

In online learning, students attend classes on the Internet and involve in real interactions with teachers and students at the other end. Students can attend the curriculum at their own pace and easily access the class from anywhere.

Online Learning is a reality and gradually becoming part of formal education. This educational model appeals especially to anyone who can’t attend a physical faculty or school. Online Learning also hops the national boundaries and is offered for dispersed college students that can have a wider choice of online programs.

How does online learning work? Learning management systems (LMS) provide an accessible exchange of information between professors and students. Τhis way, students can view learning material at their leisure or even attend scheduled conferences or lectures.

Concerning test-taking, learners can submit course assignments through the LMS, participate in a discussion, or submit other tasks. Lastly, professors may provide feedback to the student through comments or emails when using this LMS.
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