The Neuroscience of Lying

Lying is natural. It’s actually pretty necessary for our survival. Can you imagine always having to tell the truth? “How old do you think I am?” or “Do you like my cooking?” are questions we don’t always want to answer honestly, and so we don’t. While additional inquires are often suspended after our initial slightly falsified response, when further pressed, we may find ourselves a little slow to answer. That’s because lying actually takes a lot of work.

What is lying? The dictionary defines it as not telling the truth. It’s also a bit different from cheating or omitting a piece of information. It’s really about going slightly further and saying something other than the truth, such as “I think you’re eternally young!” or “So original, I would’ve never thought of doing that with anchovies!” It’s actually a dual effort: suppressing the truth and substituting it with something else.

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