How Much Does a Lie Cost?


I was asked once how much a lie costs and I didn’t know how to answer the question. I decided to find out and began to research the cost difference between truthfulness and lying.

There is a surprising amount of research on the topic and I was pleased that by doing some relatively simple analysis I was actually able to determine the actually cost of a lie.

Clearly there is a difference in cost factor depending on the size of the lie. It’s kind of like purchasing a house, typically a bigger house will cost more than a smaller house. So it is with a lie.

I should point out for my friends around the world that my analysis was done in dollars so you’ll need to do the conversion to your currency yourself. The cost, in dollars for a small lie, the kind we might call a “white lie” was as you can imagine, pretty small, coming in at $4.13 per lie.

The amazing thing, the cost of a huge lie, a friendship breaking lie, or the kind of lie that can land you in jail is a whopping $21,843.21.

I imagine that many of you would like to know how I came up with those numbers so let me explain. I made them up… I lied!

So, you mad? Feel like a sucker? How is my credibility doing? I had you for a while, didn’t I? You’ve read a rather long way into this post, invested some time and trusted me. All that, just to be lied to.

The way you’re feeling now is the same way other people feel when you are less than honest with them. It hurts, the hurt is hard to shake. The hurt lasts, sometimes a very long time.

When you lie you damage your credibility and credibility just might be the hardest thing in the world to repair. I’d bet people would lie a lot less if there was actually a dollar cost associated with each lie. Too bad they don’t realize how much their credibility is really worth.

Here is the one absolute truth in this post….your credibility is priceless. There is no amount of money that can buy it back once it’s gone and there is nothing in the world worth trading your integrity for.

When you lose your integrity you also lose your opportunity to lead. There are clearly dishonest people in leadership positions but there are no dishonest authentic leaders.

Think about that the next time the truth seems to hard to tell.

6 thoughts on “How Much Does a Lie Cost?

  1. Quite an Intresting read. Particularly so because you pointed out the cost implications most times are more than could be valued in money. Depending on factors like Culture and Geo-location the cost implications could be long term and non-correctable. Leaders lose confidence and mandate to lead,a company’s value depreciates leading to bankruptcy,families break up resulting in traumized children.

    1. It is true, the lifetime cost of even a single lie is impossible to determine. But this much is certain, once we lose our credibility it can be nearly as impossible to reclaim it.

  2. I completely agree with your point in terms of society generally. However, I think it should be noted that credibility can vary drastically between an individual’s social groups; so much so that risking credibility with one may drastically heighten credibility with another. In the end, the only credibility that really matters is the credibility that results from abiding by one’s own values – being true to one’s self.

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