A lot of us tell white lies every now and then but new scientific Research says the habit of telling lies could affect your wellbeing much more than you could ever imagine.
You have heard time and time again that the truth hurts but have you ever considered the fact that lies may hurt much more? Most people would agree that dishonesty leads to a variety of negative results, including broken trust, destroyed relationships, lost jobs, and even criminal convictions.
So why do people lie? A lot of people lie in order to make themselves look better, to avoid hurting people’s feelings, or to gain social status in one way or the other. Lying is never ideal, but new research has shown that it can actually be quite sinister— simply because it paves the way for more and bigger lies.
In a new study conducted at the University College London, researchers told participants that overestimating the amount of pennies in a jar would lead to personal gain. The brain of the participants’ were then scanned for activity during their responses. When they first began exaggerating the number of pennies in the jar, their amygdala (the brain’s built-in gauge of right and wrong), responded strongly in reaction to their dishonesty.
As their exaggerations increased, however, the response of their amgydala decreased, showing that the brain becomes desensitized to repetitive dishonesty.
What this means is that with every lie a person tells, the brain essentially feels less and less guilty or ashamed, which can lead to larger and more frequent lies. When you lie for personal gain, your amygdala produces a negative feeling that limits the extent to which you are prepared to lie.
However, this response fades as you continue to lie, and the more it falls, the bigger your lies become. This may result in a downward slippery slope where small acts of dishonesty escalate into more significant lies.
And surprisingly enough, a lot of people lie once or twice a day, according to research by Bella Depaulo, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Virginia.
The findings of this study suggest that as even little white lies cause trouble, so may other wrongdoings. The research only tested dishonesty in this experiment, but the same principle may also apply to escalations in other actions such as risk taking or violent behaviour.
Think twice before you tell that white lie!