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Talking about career politicians…

2017/07/27

Psychopaths are better at learning to lie, say researchers

Individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits are better at learning to lie than individuals who show few psychopathic traits, according to a study published in the open access journal Translational Psychiatry. The findings indicate that people with high psychopathic traits may not have a ‘natural’ capacity to lie better, but rather are better at learning how to lie, according to the researchers.

Dr. Tatia Lee and Dr. Robin Shao of the State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Laboratory of Neuropsychology at The University of Hong Kong found that after practicing a task that involved giving a series of truthful or untruthful responses about whether or not they recognized people in a collection of photographs, individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits were able to lie much more quickly than before practice. By contrast, individuals with low levels of psychopathic traits showed no improvement in their lying speed.

Dr Tatia Lee, the corresponding authors said: “The stark contrast between individuals with high and low levels of psychopathic traits in lying performance following two training sessions is remarkable, given that there were no significant differences in lying performance between the two groups prior to training.”

Dr Shao added: “High psychopathy is characterized by untruthfulness and manipulativeness but the evidence so far was not clear on whether high-psychopathic individuals in the general population tend to lie more or better than others. Our findings provide evidence that people with high psychopathic traits might just be better at learning how to lie.”

To find out if individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits were better at learning how to lie than others, the researchers recruited 52 students from The University of Hong Kong – 23 who showed low levels of psychopathic traits and 29 who showed high levels of psychopathic traits based on a questionnaire that can be used to assess psychopathy in a non-clinical setting.

Students in both groups were shown a series of photographs of familiar and unfamiliar faces. They received a cue to give either an honest or a dishonest response when asked whether they knew the person in the photograph or not. The researchers measured the students’ reaction times for each response and observed their brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging methodology (fMRI). Participants then completed a two-session training exercise before repeating the task.

The researchers found that following the training exercise, individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits had significantly shorter response times when being prompted to lie than during the initial task. Individuals with low levels of psychopathic traits showed no changes in response time. The difference may be due to how the brains of individuals with high and low levels of psychopathic traits process lies.

Dr Lee said: “During lying, the ‘true’ information needs to be suppressed and reversed. Thus, lying requires a series of processes in the brain including attention, working memory, inhibitory control and conflict resolution which we found to be reduced in individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits. By contrast, in individuals with low levels of psychopathic traits this lie-related brain activity increased. The additional ‘effort’ it took their brains to process untruthful responses may be one of the reasons why they didn’t improve their lying speed.”

The researchers caution that as all participants in this study were university students, further research is needed to be able to generalize the findings to individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits in other populations.

Explore further: A thin line lies between fantasy and reality in people with psychopathic traits

More information: R Shao et al, Are individuals with higher psychopathic traits better learners at lying? Behavioural and neural evidence, Translational Psychiatry (2017). DOI: 10.1038/tp.2017.147

Journal reference: Translational Psychiatry

Provided by: BioMed Central

Related

A thin line lies between fantasy and reality in people with psychopathic traits

25 July 2017
MedicalXpress [Edited]


“The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them, to tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies–all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.”  ~ 1984, George Orwell

In his brilliant dystopian novel, 1984, George Orwell perfectly and presciently described the kind of doublethink and doublespeak we have now come to expect of our modern politicians — Pathetic Dreamer: Obama’s Doublespeak Are Lies Meant to Fool Himself

Sacred Deception — Taqiyya

When someone shows you who and what they are, believe them … Decide for yourself.  You may choose to remain ignorant, but it will be willingly so.

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