Psychopaths might not actually be natural liars, but they are definitely better at learning how to do it. Scientists from the University of Hong Kong performed MRI brain scans on individual who exhibited psychopathic traits, and discovered how their brain activity changes when lying.
Psychopathic individuals are quicker to give dishonest answers
Researchers analyzed both people showing higher and lower psychopathic traits, and had them perform several tasks while monitoring their brain activity. One of the tasks required them to be untruthful. This is how they discovered the psychopathic individuals were quicker to give answers.
Lying requires a series of complex processes to take place in the brain, as what is true needs to be suppressed. Therefore, people need more attention, conflict resolution, inhibitory control, and memory. In other words, lying requires a bit of effort. What was interesting was the fact that these processes were inactive in a psychopath’s brain, leading to a quicker speed while giving untruthful answers.
All participants had been recruited among students, after completing a questionnaire meant to assess their psychopathy levels. Pathological lying is one of the main traits of such a condition, so it’s not unexpected to see they are better at learning how to lie.
They get better at lying as they practice
Researchers also want to answer another popular question regarding psychopaths. Do these people tend to lie more, or are they better at lying? The results of the research, published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, provide evidence that these people might be better at learning how to lie.
Researchers measured how able these people were to lie, after performing a small training exercise. They had to give either truthful or untruthful answers regarding several photographs of people. After two training sessions, they had to repeat the exercise. Psychopathic individuals performed way better at lying than the others.
The study has its limitations, but the results are quite relevant. People with high psychopathic traits do have a tendency to lie, and have been showed to get better and better at it.
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