Small Lies Lead To Bigger Lies, Study Finds

Posted: Oct 24 2016, 11:38pm CDT | by , Updated: Oct 24 2016, 11:51pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 

Small Lies Lead to Bigger Ones, Brain Study Finds
Credit: Paul Gould Blog
 

The more we lie, the easier it gets for our brain to be more adaptive in deceiving

Lying is a slippery slope. Once you start telling a lie, your brain gets used to it and encourages you to tell even bigger lies in the future, new research reveals.

That’s probably a reason why liars not feel ashamed and keeps on lying.

The study published in Nature Neuroscience reveals for the first time how we gradually get so conformable with lying and how our brains adapt to dishonesty. 

To see the effects of repeated lying on brains, researchers involved 80 participants and asked them to advise a second person about how many pennies were in a glass jar. They were promised to give different incentives based on different scenarios. For instance, participants were told that they would benefit from overestimating the number of coins and lying to their partners.

Meanwhile, researchers used scanners to monitor the brain activity of the participants, particularly of amygdale, a part of the brain associated with emotional responses. Researchers found that the amygdala responded strongly when people first lied to their partner for their own benefit. But as they continued to lie, it responded less and less. Also, the magnitude of lie escalated over time. In other words, the more the participant lied, the easier it got for a brain to be increasingly more deceitful. 

The amount of the reduction in the amygdala's activity for each trial could predict the amount of lie a person will tell in future. 

“When we lie for personal gain, our amygdala produces a negative feeling that limits the extent to which we are prepared to lie," said Dr Tali Sharot, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London and co-author of the study. 

“However, this response fades as we continue to lie, and the more it falls the bigger our lies become. This may lead to a 'slippery slope' where small acts of dishonesty escalate into more significant lies.”

Lead author Dr Neil Garrett says. “It is likely the brain's blunted response to repeated acts of dishonesty reflect a reduced emotional response to these acts. This is in line with suggestions that our amygdala signals aversion to acts that we consider wrong or immoral. We only tested dishonesty in this experiment, but the same principle may also apply to escalations in other actions such as risk taking or violent behavior.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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