FLASH NEWS
Latest News

Psychopaths better at learning to lie: study

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017,13:17 IST By anju A A A

Beijing | People who have high psychopathic traits are better at learning to lie, according to a study which suggests that psychopaths may not be ‘natural’ liars.

Scientists at 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 recognised 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.

“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,” said Tatia Lee, corresponding author of the study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

“High psychopathy is characterised 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,” said Robin Shao from University of Hong Kong.

“Our findings provide evidence that people with high psychopathic traits might just be better at learning how to lie,” Shao said.

Researchers recruited 52 students – 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.

Latest News