On Wednesday, Steve Rannazzisi—a comedian who found fame on MTV’s Punk’d and has stars in the popular FXX show The League—admitted he had fabricated a story that he said was the basis for his success: barely escaping the tumbling south tower on September 11, 2001, while working a desk job at Merrill Lynch.
Why would someone who was high-profile and easily traceable in this digital age, with no obvious reason to lie about where he was on 9/11, lie?
There’s no clear answer, and one can only speculate as to what motivated Rannazzisi. But to the question of why people lie when they can get caught, researchers have some theories.
Many people in leadership positions are narcissists, says Amy Brunell, a psychologist based at the Ohio State University campus in Mansfield, who has made a career out of understanding the psychology of narcissists and what drives their behavior—including their tendency to cheat. “They lie because they want to look good and rise to fame,” she says.
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