10 signs of a truly honest man, according to psychology

How can you separate a truly honest man from a deceptive or less honest man? 

Psychology provides many valuable insights into this, with research and insights from researchers and therapists showing how to spot a man of integrity.

By looking at the following indications, you can get a firm grasp of whether man is a truthful person or not. 

Let’s take a look.

1) He’s consistent in his words and action

The honest man is consistent in what he says and what he does. In other words, what he says lines up with what he does. 

He is the opposite of a hypocrite.

If he’s a dad then he raises his kids with values that he himself does his best to live up to. If he’s telling his girlfriend he needs some time and space alone, he also gives her the same in return. 

Consistency defines his approach. 

He’s not honest one day and then speaking with half-truths and omissions the next day. Week after week you know he’ll look you in the eye and tell you the truth, which builds him up a reputation as an honest and good guy. 

2) He uses specific language and avoids generalizations 

A man who’s truthful tends to use quite specific words and details in what he says. 

He speaks from the heart and goes into specifics about the subject at hand, rather than dancing around things or being vague. 

He talks in the first person and is clear in what he says, without trying to distance himself or be abstract or metaphorical about concrete subjects.

A dishonest and shifty man, by contrast, often speaks in generalities and talks without referring to himself. 

As the American Psychological Association notes:

“Liars avoid statements of ownership, distance themselves from their stories and avoid taking responsibility for their behavior.” 

3) He’s willing to open up about himself and his emotions

When a man is a generally truthful person, he’s honest about how he feels. 

He is secure and honest enough to open up about himself and be vulnerable, instead of being run by fear of embarrassment or showing that he has feelings. 

Instead of trying to cover up a negative reaction, for example, he’s willing to be frank that he doesn’t like something, or to admit his own perspective and unique feelings even if they’re not popular. 

If you ask if he likes the kind of music you love, he’s not going to pretend he does just to make you happy, get your business, sleep with you, impress you or any other ulterior agenda.

As Professor Emerita Susan Krauss Whitbourne PhD, ABPP points out:

“People high in the desire to impress others try to cover up their own negative reactions so you’ll like them (and believe them).”

4) He owns up to his mistakes and missteps

A dishonest guy cares more about appearances and getting what he wants than telling the truth. As soon as honesty becomes inconvenient, he starts skating around the truth. 

The honest man, by contrast, is the exact opposite:

He’s willing to admit when he’s made a mistake or misunderstood something. He also does his best to make up for it. 

He’s not led by his ego. He’d rather fess up to being wrong than continue wasting his time or chasing an illusion. 

This is a key marker of a truly honest guy, which is that he’s willing to admit he’s imperfect and try to remedy mistakes he’s made. 

As behavioral analyst and Professor Jack Schafer, PhD. explains:

“When truthful people make mistakes, they spontaneously make corrections.”

5) He doesn’t manipulate or push people around even when it could be beneficial

It’s much easier to be honest when there’s no real benefit to being dishonest. 

But the truly honest man is honest even when he could gain power or benefits from lying to people or pushing them around. 

The perfect example of this is a work context where there is a clearly visible difference between a power-hungry boss who wants to be better than others by any means necessary versus a boss who actually wants to keep things organized and honest.

“Wherever you have power, you’ll find someone nearby who’s gunning for it,” explains psychologist Seth Meyers, PsyD.

“Yet the boss with integrity is a boss not because she or he wants to have power over others, but because of being a natural leader who is good at keeping things organized and who handles challenging situations with dexterity.”

6) He tells the truth in relationships even when it’s hard

pic2529 10 signs of a truly honest man, according to psychology

When it comes to relationships, the honest man tells the truth even when it’s awkward, difficult or he feels tired or in a bad mood. 

If he needs some time and space alone he’ll be honest about that instead of just saying nothing. 

If he’s asked about a friendship with an ex-girlfriend he’ll come clean about that. In general he will show that he’s willing to open up about how he feels and be vulnerable and real. 

As relationship and psychology writer Brittany Brolley notes:

“Dishonest people are generally poor communicators. If you and your guy can talk about virtually everything, this is a really great sign that’s he’s an honest guy. 

“If he puts up walls and changes certain topics, it may not mean he has something to hide but it could very well be an indicator of dishonesty.”

7) He sticks to his promises and commitments

Honesty is about far more than just words, it’s about actions. 

The man who’s truly honest sticks to his promises and commitments whenever and wherever possible. 

In situations where that is something he cannot do, he calls with as much advance notice as possible to let people know that he can’t come through on something. 

He’s never the one to borrow money and not return it for years, nor is he the one to get into a relationship with no real intention of staying faithful

He backs up his promises with action and makes his words count. 

8) His principles and beliefs stay consistent in different situations

There are certain situations where honesty is expected and necessary:

Many careers come to mind where dishonesty can get you fired, for example, and many people won’t risk breaking the law by stealing or other crimes because of their fear of the punishment or moral beliefs against stealing. 

But a truly honest guy isn’t just honest when the heat is on and everybody is watching. He’s not just honest about the big stuff or about the issues where it feels clear-cut to him. 

He’s also honest in the smaller things and in how he treats everyone. 

He doesn’t adjust his behavior or honesty level in different situations or around people of different status levels. 

“I once knew a guy that had a ‘trick’ for skipping out on leaving tips at restaurants and was proud of it,” recounts Brolley.

“Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed. If your guy thinks it’s clever to cheat people in one way, he may very well cheat you in another.”

9) When he listens and gives advice he sincerely cares

The dishonest man is slippery and unctuous, listening and advising in a way that’s not truly caring. He pretends to give a damn because he knows he “should,” but deep down he’s indifferent. 

He gives advice without actually caring about the impact it would have, especially if it goes wrong.

The honest man, by contrast, sincerely cares. He opens up about his feelings with regards to a situation or person and gives advice from the heart. 

He also considers how that advice might play out in the real world and considers the other person’s point of view when thinking about their situation. 

“Truthful people often include thoughts and emotions when they describe people or events,” explains Schafer.

10) He’s reliable and trustworthy and does his best to avoid excuses

The honest man does his best to avoid excuses. 

If he does something wrong or can’t make a commitment he signed up for, he’s just up front about it. 

Rather than focusing on who or what is to blame, he’s practical and straightforward about it. 

He’s also trustworthy and makes an ideal confidante, keeping secrets for friends and colleagues and coming through when he promises to do something. 

“Most importantly, trust your instincts. You might have a great intuitive sense of honesty versus dishonesty. Learn to heed those gut feelings,” notes psychosocial rehabilitation specialist and psychology educator Kendra Cherry, MsEd.

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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