lozhScientists discovered that small lies cause bigger lies. The brain gets used to self-serving lies and eventually stops responding anxiously when we are lying.

The more we lie—the easier it gets

Even the smallest lie reduces brain’s susceptibility (in the area called amygdala) to negative emotions, which appear when we are dishonest. This was revealed by the study commissioned by Wellcome and the Center for Advanced Hindsight and analysed by specialists from the University College of London. It means that the more we lie, the easier it gets.

Moreover, the researchers were able to reveal how amygdala’s reaction to lying declines with every time we utter fables, Science Daily reports.

A special experiment was conducted to study this phenomenon.

The team of scientists scanned brains of 80 people while they were involved in a game. During the game, people were allowed to use deceit for their own benefit.

The participants were supposed to count the number of coins in a jar and then send results of their calculations to invisible partners via computer. There were 8 variants of the scenario.

In the main scenario, people were told that those who guess the correct number of coins would benefit both themselves and partners.

The remaining scenarios were more intriguing. Over- or under-estimating the results was supposed to bring benefits to:

  • the person at the partner’s expense
  • the partner at the person’s expense
  • both participants
  • one of the members with no losses for anyone

In case where the participants could gain at their partner’s expense, they started to gradually add up to the results of calculations. Over the course of time, people exaggerated their results significantly.

How our brains get used to lying

Experiments established that the amygdala is more active when a person deceits for the first time. As the intensity of amygdala’s response drops, the scale of untruths increases. This is why scientists believe that dishonesty may lead to larger lies in future.

The leading author Dr. Tali Sharot says that when we deceit, the amygdala causes a bad feeling, which serves as a barrier to further lies. However, this reaction fades with time, opening the doors for more lies.

The researchers note that this approach is also applicable to other immoral activities such as risk taking and aggression. The slippery slope leads to greater transgressions fairly quickly.


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Absolutely true! Once you need to tell people a small lie in ordinary situation, you get used to it without noticing. Just think of it and try to analyze how many more lies you say to people during the day afterwards!!! Sometimes you even don’t really need to lie. It catches you as smoking or any other bad habit and you just can’t help it.


I totally agree with the idea. I knew it even without any scientific proof. For me it was a question of moral barriers. When you cross one, things change, you change. The same scheme works with marital infidelity. After several treasons, it is just impossible to stop cheating. That is why, I prefer honesty to myself and others.


Is it interesting for scientist to investigate the brain’s processes those people who can’t tell lies? I’d like to take part in such kind of experiments and get some advices how to “fix” it. It’s a really problem when I tell lies, my face becomes red every time. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to control my emotions.