Posts Tagged ‘Lying’

More Than Smoke and Mirrors: The Mental Processes Behind Lying

April 23rd, 2022 No comments

Chances are you have heard George Washington’s legendary axiom “I cannot tell a lie,”but such words are themselves a lie. No, I am not accusing the first president of being a pathological liar. But I AM arguing that lying is a human function that is difficult to avoid altogether.

Lying spans multiple realms; philosophers debate its moral implications, some religious communities consider it a mortal sin, and Americans witness it in our own political and sociocultural environment (let’s just say that George Washington wasn’t the only Commander in Chief who failed to tell the truth). But lying also has a cognitive element, meaning it involves mental processes such as attention and memory.

Read more…

Good Liars: Working Memory and the Cherry Tree

November 25th, 2015 1 comment

As the legend goes, an angry father confronts his son about the damage to a cherry tree. “I cannot tell a lie,” young George Washington proudly asserts, “I did cut it with my hatchet.” Washington Senior proceeds to forgive his son, because George’s honesty was more valuable than a thousand trees. This legend has been retold over and over to extol the virtues of honesty and morality. But what if the young George cannot tell a lie because he is a bad liar with a poor working memory?

Read more…

Categories: Attention, Memory Tags: ,

Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater. Or So You think.

 Ever met someone you just don’t trust? Maybe it’s something about their face. Maybe you heard something about them from a friend that made you wince in disgust. Research shows that this distrust tends to be a stubborn figment in our imaginations—even when we learn that our reasoning for distrusting someone is unfounded, we have a hard time accepting that the person in question is trust-worthy. A group of cognitive psychologists from Japan wondered why this is the case. Their question: why is it that we’re so good at remembering people who are “cheaters?” Given that we’re social animals cooperatively working to make this thing called society work, is it possible that we’re hard-wired to explicitly identify others who take nefarious advantage of our cooperation? Perhaps evolution is at play, and we need this ability to continue to make society viable (Suzuki, Honma, and Suga, 2013). They wondered just that and decided to study this question with a series of experiments testing the durability of stigma participants held in their study.

Read more…

The Worst Lies Involve Raccoons

November 26th, 2013 1 comment

“A good memory is needed once we have lied.”

– Pierre Corneille, Le Menteur

angry raccoonOne of the most memorable moments of my childhood was saving my friends and siblings from a rabies-ridden raccoon.  We were all playing a game of kickball in the local park, when a gargantuan raccoon approached us.  With a crazed look in its eyes, the raccoon prowled towards us like a lion stalking its prey.  I knew it was trouble, but before I could call for my parents, it began to charge us.  As my friends turned to run away, I ran towards it.  Like two warriors meeting on a battlefield, we raced headlong towards each other.  Mere feet away the raccoon lunged for me, its fangs bared, ready to bite. As my foe tried to close its teeth around my calf, with only milliseconds to spare, my foot shot out and I delivered a ferocious kick to the raccoon’s chest. It roared as it thumped to the ground.  Knowing it was no match for the stoic twelve-year old that I was, the raccoon raced away.  My friends all crowded around me and celebrated my stunning triumph over the savage beast.  I told that story to most of my friends at college, and few believed me.  I knew it was true, so I reached out to a couple of friends who were there to have them back me up.  What they said shocked me.



Read more…

Categories: Memory Tags: ,