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  • Ashi Gudibanda

The Truth About Lying

Lies. As humans, we are all familiar with this concept, embedded in our psychology and our society. From little white lies to darker, elaborate webs of deception, lies have always been a part of our world. But why? What goes on in our brains when we decide to tell a lie? Can lies really all be wrong, or are there exceptions? 

There are two parts of the brain mainly involved in telling a lie: the prefrontal cortex, responsible for decision-making and self-control, and the amygdala, the brain’s emotional center. When someone tells a lie, the prefrontal cortex, being responsible for self-control, activates to suppress truthful responses, holding them back to make the lie successful. The amygdala’s involvement is a lot more interesting: it reflects the emotional impact the lie has on the teller, i.e. the guilt they feel for it. Activity in the amygdala decreases with the more lies someone tells, indicating the guilt the person feels lessens with each additional lie. This explains how people progressively get better at lying and can do it more frequently over time with little to no remorse.

However, even lying without any remorse has its tells, certain signs that indicate the presence of the lie, such as increased perspiration, fidgeting, avoiding eye contact, or changes in vocal pitch. Many times people will also look to the left after telling a lie. Learning to recognize these tells can protect people from deceit, or more immorally can be used to lie flawlessly. 

But why would someone want to lie in the first place? The reasons behind lying are diverse and multifaceted. People may lie to avoid punishment, protect themselves or others, gain social approval, or maintain privacy. 

From a moral standpoint, the acceptability of lying is a subject of debate. While honesty is generally valued, some argue that certain situations justify deception. For instance, lying to protect someone from harm is socially acceptable. This is demonstrated by the saying ‘the ends justify the means.’ Lying can be seen as morally permissible if it serves an altruistic purpose, rather than self-serving motives.

In conclusion, the reasons behind lying are varied and multifaceted. Understanding these motives provides insights into the intricate interplay between individual psychology and societal norms. 

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