Practice Makes the Perfect Liar, Study Shows

20 minutes are enough to turn an honest individual into a credible liar

A study conducted by scientists at Northwestern University and published in the November 12 issue of the Frontiers in Cognitive Science journal shows that when it comes to lying, the more the practice, the better the results.

“After a short time of training, people can be very efficient at lying. The difference between lying and being honest has been eliminated after the training,” declared Xioaqing Hu, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Northwestern University.

The experiment consisted of several levels meant to reveal the way the quality and credibility of a lie increase with practice.

First, the 16 volunteers participating in the study had to act as spies and remember three fundamental pieces of info which make a false identity: a new name, a new birth date and a new hometown, Live Science reports.

Afterwards, volunteers were asked to give “Yes” or “No” answers to several questions about their personal life, introduced by “Is it true of you?”

Participants' last task was to train in lying for 20 minutes by pressing the “Yes” button for the facts about their false identity, and “No” for truths about themselves.

It was proved that 20 minutes of practice can do miracles. It was almost impossible to distinguish the liars from the honest people.

“We think that, psychologically, the people basically learned that this is not me and the fake identity is me,” explained Hu.

Scientists say the disclosure has a big importance for the lie-detection studies, as well as for research in the criminal field.

“But in the real world, after a crime, there is usually a delay between the crime and the interrogation,” said Hu, which allows criminals to improve their lying skills.

Although lying is known as a common practice among humans, experts say it is actually not an easy activity. Lying appears to be more difficult than telling the truth, because it requires considerable brain power and control.

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