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Lying is frowned upon in society but actually it’s one of the most refined and challenging achievements of the human brain.  Polygraph tests are still the most reliable methods we have for detecting deception.

In children lying is a learned behaviour whereas if the frontal lobe is injured humans may not be able to.

To enhance our competence in deception, the prefrontal cortex needs electrical stimulation it seems. This area of the brain is partly incumbent on our decisions to tell the truth or be dishonest. When the prefrontal lobe shows heightened activity some scientists consider that this indicates the decision making process when choosing to be honest or not. However, the activity doesn’t give us any information about the actual lie.

Few humans are capable of recognising lies. Certain mannerisms can be, but are not always, associated with lying.  These include behaviours such as tapping fingers on a table, twisting hair, taking deep breaths, clenching fists, and not looking people directly in the eye. Naturally all these mannerisms can transpire for other reasons, so they aren’t proof of dishonesty. Many of these reactions can be caused by nervousness or even anger.  Conversely the polygraph machine is much more adept at determining deception.

Most religions take a dim view of lying with a firm “Thou shalt not”! Most philosophers aren’t keen on it either, with some considering it is evil (Immanuel Kant) and others believing people lie to hide their true selves (Bettina Stangneth).

Children love making up stories

There is a fine line between children having a health imagination and intentionally telling lies.  Most kids start to deceive between 4 and 5 years old. They begin to understand rules and what happens when they are broken.  For example, a confession might elicit punishment but if you are dishonest it’s possible you might escape the consequence of your bad behaviour. Children also learn how to assess what someone else might be thinking.  For example, if Dad saw me dent his car with my cricket ball, he is not going to believe that the kid next door did it. Whereas if  he didn’t see me, I could blame it on the neighbour’s kid.

Young adults are adept at lying

According to recent studies, adults lie on average around twice a day. However, our proficiency appears to be age related. Children don’t find it easy to formulate lies that are credible. But 18 to 29 year olds have it practised to a fine art.  However, after the mid-forties our proficiency wanes.

Contemporary thinking among psychologists is that it is much easier to be truthful than dishonest. But as humans we are complex.  Sometimes we lie so as not to offend someone or hurt their feelings.  But deception performed for nefarious purposes, requires an exceptionally good memory as one lie usually leads to many others.

Polygraph tests are still the most accurate in terms of identifying deception but technology is developing.  The search for the truth continues to fascinate scientists worldwide.

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If you would like to learn more about polygraph tests and lie detector science visit our blog regularly. And if you’d like advice about ordering a lie detector test, contact us.  Our confidential team of polygraph experts will be happy to chat with you.

Brain Activity, Telling Lies and Polygraph Tests
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