A lie is a statement that is known or intended by its source to be misleading, inaccurate, or false. The practice of communicating lies is called lying, and a person who communicates a lie may be termed a liar. Lies may be employed to serve a variety of instrumental, interpersonal, or psychological functions for the individuals who use them. Generally, the term "lie" carries a negative connotation, and depending on the context a person who communicates a lie may be subject to social, legal, religious, or criminal sanctions. In certain situations, however, lying is permitted, expected, or even encouraged. Because believing and acting on false information can have serious consequences, scientists and others have attempted to develop reliable methods for distinguishing lies from true statements.