Lying has a lot more to it than someone trying to avoid consequences for their actions. We all learned about “white lies” from a young age, taught that we tell a small untruth to spare another person’s feelings. But why do we have to do this?

The School of Life explains, while blaming George Washington himself for society’s obsession with the idea of honesty, that a white lie is actually true, deep down. ”It’s told out of loyalty to a bigger truth … that would be threatened by full disclosure,” the video says, giving the example of a beloved aunt who bakes a gross cake — the bigger truth is that we love her, so we tell the white lie as a way of telling her that fact. “The great truth has to pass into the mind of another person via a smaller falsehood.”

This relationship occurs because humans are so insecure: “We don’t like to acknowledge the fragility of our own minds” but if we reject our aunt’s cake, she interprets it as a rejection of her whole being.

Read: The Psychology of Alien Abductions

Lying is deeply ingrained in society. Psychology Today says people lie every day, “almost as often as they snack from the refrigerator or brush their teeth. … Over the course of a week they deceive about 30 percent of those with whom they interact one-on-one.” Those are actual lies intended to deceive, whether they are white lies or bigger — generally experts do not include polite yet untrue exchanges such as telling someone you are well when asked how you’ve been.

See also:

4 Health Lies and Rumors

The Truth About Nutella