Dan Ariely's lying discussion recognizes the inevitable fact that people are prone to dishonesty. Though a utopian society might be free of such unscrupulous behavior, mendacity is unavoidable so long as there are people to commit it. That said, lying isn't omnipresent; it tends to crop up more under specific circumstances. Ariely's talk investigates what these circumstances are and how dishonesty impacts society as a whole.
One of the key aspects of lying versus honesty is a dichotomy that's present in all people. On the one hand, people have a deep desire to think of themselves as fundamentally good. On the other hand, people are able to lie and cheat in order to make situations better for themselves (despite understanding that such behavior makes them a bad person.) In order to reconcile these contrary notions, people use high level rationalization to justify their dishonest actions.
This sort of justification plays itself out in an interesting way in the world at large. Whereas someone would feel guilty about stealing a pen from a store, they wouldn't feel the same about stealing a pen from their office. This psychological rift is something that Ariely explores.
How Lying Affects Society
More Stats +/-
The Consequences of Incentives
Self-Induced Poor Choices
Empathy and Emotion in Decision-Making
How to Bypass Temptation