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Honesty vs. Integrity: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 9, 2023
Honesty is the act of telling the truth, while integrity refers to having strong moral principles and consistency in actions.

Key Differences

Honesty is primarily about truthfulness, encompassing behaviors like not lying, cheating, or stealing. Integrity, on the other hand, delves deeper into character, involving moral uprightness and a consistency between one's beliefs and actions.
Being honest means being straightforward and not deceiving in interactions. Integrity envelops a broader scope, emphasizing unwavering adherence to ethical principles even when unobserved.
An individual can display honesty in isolated actions, such as admitting a mistake. Integrity, however, is reflected in consistent patterns of behavior that align with ethical and moral standards.
While honesty can be thought of as a subset of integrity, it doesn't encompass all that integrity implies. A person with integrity invariably possesses honesty, but an honest individual may not always act with complete integrity.
In summary, while both honesty and integrity emphasize truthfulness and morality, honesty is more situational and specific, and integrity covers a broader, more holistic scope of consistent ethical behavior.

Comparison Chart

Primary Focus

Truthfulness in actions and words.
Moral uprightness and consistency in actions and beliefs.


Specific actions or statements.
Overall character and consistent ethical behavior.

In Situational Terms

Can be displayed in isolated actions.
Reflected in a pattern of behavior.


Subset of integrity.
Encompasses honesty as one of its facets.


Admitting a lie.
Acting ethically, even when no one is watching.

Honesty and Integrity Definitions


Honesty is refraining from deceit in interactions.
She valued honesty above all other virtues.


Integrity is doing the right thing even when unobserved.
His integrity shone when he reported the unnoticed mistake.


Honesty is the act of not lying or cheating.
She appreciated the student's honesty in admitting the oversight.


Integrity means being whole and undivided in ethical values.
The integrity of the organization was evident in its transparent operations.


Honesty denotes sincerity and straightforwardness.
His honesty in the situation was commendable.


Integrity is the quality of having strong moral principles.
She admired his integrity in standing up for what's right.


Honesty involves being genuine and not pretending.
Her honesty was refreshing in a world of pretense.


Integrity involves the consistency of actions and beliefs.
Even when faced with adversity, his integrity remained unshaken.


Honesty is the quality of being truthful.
His honesty was evident when he returned the lost wallet.


Integrity is maintaining ethical coherence in all situations.
Her integrity was unquestionable, as she never compromised her values.


The quality or condition of being honest; integrity.


Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code
A leader of great integrity.


Is honesty the same as integrity?

While related, honesty is about truthfulness, while integrity involves consistent moral principles.

Why is integrity considered a broader concept than honesty?

Because integrity encompasses consistent ethical behavior, of which honesty is just one part.

Is integrity just about telling the truth?

While honesty is a facet of integrity, integrity also includes consistently acting in line with one's moral values.

Can you give an example of someone with honesty but not integrity?

Someone might admit a mistake (honesty) but still take unethical shortcuts in other situations, showing a lack of integrity.

How can I improve my honesty and integrity?

Reflect on your actions, uphold your commitments, admit mistakes, and strive to align actions with your beliefs.

Can a person be honest but lack integrity?

Yes, a person might be truthful (honest) but not consistently uphold strong moral values (integrity).

What happens if a leader lacks honesty or integrity?

It can erode trust, harm morale, and negatively impact the organization's reputation.

Why is it said that "integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching"?

Because integrity involves consistent moral actions, irrespective of external observations or rewards.

How do honesty and integrity influence societal trust?

They are foundational to trust, fostering reliable interactions, and cohesiveness in communities.

Are there situations where honesty might conflict with integrity?

Potentially, such as being honest in revealing a truth but violating a promise or principle in doing so.

How are honesty and integrity taught to children?

Through role modeling, discussions, real-life examples, and reinforcing truthful and ethical behaviors.

Are honesty and integrity innate or learned behaviors?

Both can be innate, but they can also be nurtured and strengthened through experiences and teachings.

How do honesty and integrity impact personal relationships?

They build trust, understanding, and respect between individuals.

How can I assess someone's honesty or integrity?

Observe their behavior over time, note their reactions in varied situations, and consider feedback from others.

What role do honesty and integrity play in leadership?

They foster trust, credibility, and inspire others to emulate those behaviors.

Can someone regain lost honesty or integrity?

With genuine remorse, corrective actions, and consistent ethical behavior over time, it's possible.

Are there professions where honesty and integrity are especially crucial?

All professions value them, but they're especially vital in roles like judiciary, law enforcement, finance, and medicine.

Why are both honesty and integrity valued in the workplace?

Both qualities build trust, enhance reputation, and contribute to a positive work environment.

Can a company or organization possess integrity?

Yes, organizations can exhibit integrity through ethical operations, transparency, and consistent values.

Are there cultures where the definitions of honesty and integrity differ?

Core concepts might be consistent, but cultural norms can influence their interpretation and practice.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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