Researchers have determined that after just 20 minutes of practice liars can become almost indistinguishable from truth-tellers, in a new study.
The study shows that just by studying for a short period of time, liars can maintain their lies just as easily as their truths when asked about them.
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"After a short time of training, people can be very efficient at lying," the Daily Mail quoted Xioaqing Hu, the study's co-author from Northwestern University, said.
"The difference between lying and being honest has been eliminated after the training," Hu said.
Hu and his peers were particularly interested by how time alters a person's ability to lie, and so they organized the following study.
For the study, they asked 16 people to remember three fake facts about themselves - a new name, a new date of birth and a new hometown.
The volunteers were then asked whether or not a specific fact about them was true, for instance, "Is your hometown Detroit?" Responders would press a "yes" or "no" button in front of them to input their answers.
Researchers then asked a portion of the study, designated "liars", to press "yes" whenever the fake fact about them came up and "no" whenever the true ones did.
Though at first, these subjects had a more difficult time answering, after about 270 trials or 20 minutes, researchers found that they became indistinguishable from truth-tellers based on accuracy and response time.
"We think that, psychologically, the people basically learned that this is not me and the fake identity is me," Hu said.
According to researchers, results of this study show that time is able to help compensate for the brain's natural instinct to tell the truth.
The reason why lying is so difficult is that it requires an incredible amount of brainpower, since a person must think about contradictory information when telling a lie. Thus, he must suppress the natural desire to tell the truth.
"Lying is a difficult, because honesty is the default communication mode," Hu said.
But Hu said that once practice has been introduced, people are able to suppress that instinct and lie much more convincingly.
The study has been published in the journal Frontiers of Science.
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