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|Subject: White lies start slippery ride Wed Oct 26, 2016 5:50 pm|| |
|Little lies open us up to bigger lies, research shows.|
A new study in Nature Neuroscience says repeated acts of self-serving dishonest behaviour diminish the brain’s sensitivity to dishonesty.
By eliciting and measuring dishonesty escalation in the lab, the study provides a biological explanation for a ‘slippery slope’ on which minor deviations from the truth over time can snowball into substantial acts of dishonesty.
Researchers asked 58 adults (ages 18 to 65) to advise a second person about the amount of money contained in a glass jar of coins.
The authors varied whether dishonesty about the jar’s contents would benefit the participant at the expense of their partner, benefit both parties, benefit the partner at the participant’s expense, benefit only the participant without affecting the partner, or benefit the partner without affecting the participant.
Dishonesty escalated over several trials to a greater degree for the two conditions that benefited the participant (either at the expense of or also benefitting the partner), compared to the condition that benefited the partner at the expense of the participant.
Furthermore, the measured level of dishonesty and the degree to which dishonesty escalated were greater when dishonesty benefitted the participant alone, compared to when it benefitted the partner alone, suggesting that these findings were due to self-interest.
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