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Here’s Why Cheaters Often Do It More Than Once

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What Happens When You Lie?

Although lying comes naturally to a few, most people’s brains are equipped with an anti-lying mechanism we call the conscience. When we lie, we feel bad, and this prevents us from wanting to do it again. However, for some, lying repeatedly lessens the guilt they feel from misleading others. The researchers saw this occur physically in test subjects. For example, when participants were asked to lie in a test scenario, the amygdala, the area of their brain associated with emotions, lit up. However, after repeated lies, this increased activity response weakened, Business Insider reported.

We don’t know for sure if the same weakened response occurs when cheaters lie in real life, as we’ve never taken scans of people as they fib while lying in their lover’s arms. However, the researchers suspect the same mechanism is at play, which is why cheating comes more naturally after it’s been done a few times.

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Of course, some people, like psychopaths, may not feel guilt or remorse at all, and they may cheat for the thrill of it. For the rest of us, unless you want to establish a pattern, it’s best to avoid cheating in the first place.

Source: Garrett N, Lazzaro S, Ariely D, Sharot T. The brain adapts to dishonesty. Nature Neuroscience . 2017