People who tell small,self-serving lies are likely to progress to bigger falsehoods,and over time,the brain appears to adapt to the dishonesty,according to a new study.


The finding,the researchers said,provides evidence for the"slippery slope" sometimes described by wayward politicians,corrupt financiers,unfaithful spouses and others in explaining their misconduct.

Dishonesty has been difficult to study.Using brain scanners in a lab,researchers have sometimes instructed subjects to lie in order to see what their brains were doing.Dr.Sharot and her colleagues devised a situation that offered participants the chance to lie of their own free will,and gave them an incentive to do so.

Participants in the study were asked to advise a partner in another room about how many pennies were in a jar.When the subjects believed that lying about the amount of money was to their benefit,they were more inclined to dishonesty and their lies escalated over time.

These findings suggested that the negative emotional signals initially associated with lying decrease as the brain becomes desensitized,Dr.Sharot said.

Dr.Garrett said he hoped that the study could be repeated in other,more realistic settings,and that another study could be done to look at what might stop people from escalating their dishonesty.

"How do you stop it? How do you prevent it?" he asked.

But Dr.Ruff said that if the findings from this study held up,the message seemed clear.

"The implication is that we should watch out that we don"t tolerate lies,in order to prevent people from lying," he said.





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