Small lie can make you a big sinner. An interesting study has revealed Self-serving lies might gradually lead people to a bigger one and finally push them down a slippery slope where their brains may start to adapt to the dishonesty, by making deceit look easier.
The findings showed that telling small lies desensitizes our brains to the associated negative emotions and may encourage us to tell bigger lies in the future.
Beside, amygdala is a part of the brain associated with emotion was said to be most active when people first lied for their personal gain. The amygdala’s response to lying declined with every lie in the meantime the magnitude of the lies escalated.
Larger drops in amygdala activity predicted bigger lies in future, the researchers said.
Tali Sharot from University College London (UCL) said “When we tell a lie for a personal gain, our amygdala produces a negative feeling that limits the extent to which we are prepared to lie.”
“However, the response fades as we continue to tell lie, and the more it falls the bigger our lies become. This may lead to a ‘slippery slope’ where small acts of dishonesty escalate into more significant lies,” Sharot observed.
The team included 80 volunteers for the study. They took part in a team estimation task that involved guessing the number of pennies in a jar and sending their estimates to partners whom they never seen using a computer.
Participants were told that aiming for the most accurate estimate would benefit them and their partner and over-estimating the amount would benefit the volunteer at their partner’s expense.
The results revealed that people started by little exaggerating their estimates which elicited strong amygdala responses.
Their exaggerations escalated because the experiment went on while their amygdala responses declined.
The researchers only tested dishonesty in this experiment. The same principle may also apply to escalations in other actions such as risk taking or even violent behavior as they stated, in the study that published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.