Brain Explain: The Truth Behind Lying

You know that little lie you told someone yesterday about liking their shirt – even though you wouldn’t be caught dead in it – and that little lie you told your grandmother about enjoying going through photos of her in primary school? A little specific? We have all been there.
“I’m fine.”
“No, you don’t look fat in those jeans.”
“Wow, you are really funny.”

Lies. Lies. And more lies.

While we are conscious of those deliberate white lies to make someone (or ourselves) feel better, we’re actually bigger liars than we thought. On average, we are lied to up to 200 times a day, and repay that favour by lying 1 to 2 times a day (Eurekalert, 2021). And that’s on an average day, with no proms, work conferences, or job interviews and the such. And Will pretends to not care what others think of him, but we all know he does.
So why in the name of psychology do we lie so much?

As explained in the article: Brain Explain: The Lobes Of Life (, the functions of the numerous areas in the brain are described in further depth.
When an uncomfortable situation – or the potential for an uncomfortable situation – arises, the limbic system kicks in. The limbic system contains the amygdala, the component responsible for anxiety and aides in deception, which creates the need to lie in the particular situation. The Temporal Lobe is responsible for retrieving and utilising memories, and using these to create mental imagery. The frontal lobe in the brain is commonly known to be involved with regulating emotions and behaviour. But did you know it’s also capable of suppressing truth (Forbes, 2020)? When the frontal lobe is applied to a particular situation, the limbic system and the temporal lobes assist in creating a false image in the brain to create a dishonest interpretation of an event or situation.

After these parts of the brain create the lie through the limbic system feeling the need to create a lie, and the temporal lobe creating the mental imagery, the frontal lobe allows us to externally express the lie, and pretend to love the meal our friendly acquaintance made for us.

Lying can be good and bad in different situations, and work to our advantage in some, but not others. However, it is important to understand how easy it is to get caught up in a lie, and to be aware of when we are being dishonest, so that we can actively be more truthful.

Reference List:
Eurekalert (2021). UMass researcher finds most people lie in everyday conversation. [Accessed 13 April 2021]. Available at:

Forbes (2020). Why We Lie, And The Neuroscience Behind It. [Accessed 13 April 2021]. Available at:

Featured image retrieved from:

Zac Cullen

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