The shocking truth about the lies you tell

New research finds small self-serving lies can make people comfortable with larger deceptions

New research finds small self-serving lies can make people comfortable with larger deceptions. Anthony Asael Art in All of Us Getty Images

However, this response fades as we continue to lie. The participants started out with small lies and progressed to bigger ones, especially when they believed that lying would benefit them. CNN image - Central Coast News (@KCOY) October 24, 2016 Interestingly amygdala isn't the only region that "lights up" when a person lies.

In the study the researchers recruited 80 adults to participate in a task that involved estimating and advising a partner about the amount of money in a glass jar of pennies, which contained between £15 and £35 (around $18 to $43). The researchers introduced the participants in different scenarios that may affect their estimation. Assuming you don't get caught, taking the first step toward dishonesty can cause you to be more and more dishonest when similar opportunities present themselves in the future.

The test was a two-person speculating game.

Participants differed sharply on how far they wandered from the truth, and the rate at which their dishonesty escalated.

This is what happens to your brain when you lie constantly. Essentially, serial lies continually register a diminishing emotional response in the brain.

Scientists were especially surprised to find that larger decreases in amygdala activity could accurately predict that someone would tell bigger lies in the future. "This highlights the danger of engaging in small acts of dishonesty", says Sharot.

Over a quarter of the participants underwent MRI scans during the experiments. Here, the scientists discovered there was a progressively reduced response in the amygdala to self-serving dishonesty over time, suggesting the brain gradually adapts to dishonesty.

While there are many environmental and cultural factors that can explain why some are big liars, the researchers suspected an underlying biological mechanism has to be at place, too. But, of course, there are people who lie more than others.

Lying becomes successively easy to those who keep up the habit of telling fibs, indicates a new study. Almost everyone is guilty of telling a small white lie at some point in their lives.

Previous research by Ariely and others shows that dishonesty can be curbed through interventions such as reminding people of their values, emphasising the honest actions of others and wiping the slate clean through acts of confession.

Sharot's team speculates the findings might be relevant for other kinds of behavior.

"And, it is possible that, in autism, the difficulty of having - a theory of mine - an understanding of what people are feeling and caring about is going to eliminate their ability to tell white lies", he said. And Maurice Schweitzer, who studies deception at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, said the method with the brain scan was novel, as reported by The Post. While the study authors focused on the amygdala as a source of emotion, she thinks that this part of the brain is not necessarily critical for such a process based on evidence showing that people can feel emotion without changes in the activity of the amygdala. Dr. Sharot and her team came up with an ingenious experiment that offered participants the chance to lie by choice, and gave them rewards for doing so.

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