Enter to win every day in CTNOW's 21 Days of Summer Giveaways. Click here to see today's prize.
Family Fun
Family Fun

What's behind the lies?

Recent headlines involving Lance Armstrong's doping confession to Oprah and the Manti Te'o Internet girlfriend hoax have us wondering what it is that leads some people to lie. So we turned to experts to help explain what might be happening inside the heads of those who tell lies.

"Different brains will deliver different behaviors when it comes to lying," said Dr. Mona Lisa Schulz, who studied behavioral neuroscience at Boston School of Medicine. For example, Armstrong lied for years about taking performance-enhancing drugs, while the Te'o hoax came to a relatively quick end once it was uncovered. "Some people can put a blinder up so they can ignore other people's emotions to focus on the task at hand ... so this is for a short period of time, for survival. It can also be done for a long period of time."

Activity related to behavior and thus to lying is centered in the frontal lobe, Schulz said, which is the part of the brain where empathy, emotions, relationships and intuition are all connected.

"People who are naturally empathic or emotional have a hard time ignoring the emotions of others, which makes lying for longer periods of time very difficult," she said. "For some people, their brain's wiring never goes to that intersection in the frontal lobe. Those lines are not functioning. Either it was genetic and they were born without them or they were raised in an environment that didn't foster all those qualities. It is easier for these people to lie for longer periods of time."

Taking another view, health psychology expert Matthew James, Ph.D. and chairman of the Association for Integrative Psychology, said

people who tell a lie repeatedly can actually start to believe it.

"It becomes pathological," he said. "It becomes part of who they are."

So why do some liars eventually come clean, like Armstrong did to Oprah?

"Some people become anxious to let the truth out because they aren't bad people, they just got caught up in their story," James said. "When you look at the physiology of the liar when the lie is revealed, you can almost see a relief — like a weight has been lifted off of them."

Schulz said a sudden life change can also trigger the need to tell the truth.

"Something that can override the wiring of your brain and put an end to destructive behavior is a crisis or a life threatening illness," she said. "It does something to your limbic system, or your empathy circuits. ... and a person is then faced with a choice where they can choose to change."

jweigel@tribune.com

Twitter: @jenweigel

Copyright © 2015, CT Now
Related Content
  • Giant Slide The City Slipping Into Hartford

    Giant Slide The City Slipping Into Hartford

    More than 3,500 people will relive a little bit of their childhoods on a giant scale as they slip and slide for 1,000 feet down Trinity Street in Hartford when Slide the City comes to town Saturday, Aug. 22.

  • A Madison Daycation: A Beach, A Bookstore, A Beautiful Hotel

    A Madison Daycation: A Beach, A Bookstore, A Beautiful Hotel

    Downtown Madison, Connecticut, has the feel of a beach town, though the beach itself is nearly 2 miles away. In addition to shops and restaurants, the town has one of the best independent bookstores in the state and a century-old independent movie theater.

  • Caribbean and Jerk Fest Returns To The Riverfront

    Jamaican reggae artist Luciano, Barbadian jazz saxophonist Elan Trotman, the music and dance troop Iroko Nuevo and other Caribbean-style performers head to Mortensen Riverfront Plaza on Saturday, Aug. 1, from 1 to 11 p.m. for the 10th annual Taste of the Caribbean and Jerk Festival.

  • 10 Tips For The Best Summer Runs

    10 Tips For The Best Summer Runs

    Summer is a great time for running in Connecticut — outside of the heat and humidity, the swarms of mosquitoes and flies and the crowds trying to enjoy this short-lived season of sunshine. Besides that, it's great getting a chance to lay down the ear warmers and unearth those tank tops. But once...

  • Sounds Of Mexico Come To Old State House Farmer's Market

    Sounds Of Mexico Come To Old State House Farmer's Market

    The sounds of Mexico, along with dancing, hand-clapping and maraca-shaking, come to the Old State House Farmers Market. Fiesta del Norte, Connecticut's first mariachi band, performs on Friday, July 31, at noon at Connecticut's Old State House, 800 Main St., Hartford.

  • Sunflower Maze Returns To Lyman Orchards

    Sunflower Maze Returns To Lyman Orchards

    Dinosaurs return to the fields of Lyman Orchards in Middlefield when its annual sunflower maze opens Saturday, Aug. 1. This year's maze, approximately three acres, is shaped like a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Comments
Loading
75°