13 October 2005

Biological basis for lying

A USC study has found the first proof of structural brain abnormalities in people who habitually lie, cheat and manipulate others.
The subjects were taken from a sample of 108 volunteers pulled from Los Angeles’ temporary employment pool. A series of psychological tests and interviews placed 12 in the category of people who had a history of repeated lying (11 men, one woman); 16 who exhibited signs of antisocial personality disorder but not pathological lying (15 men, one woman); and 21 who were normal controls (15 men, six women).
After they were categorized, the researchers used Magnetic Resonance Imaging to explore structural brain differences between the groups. The liars had significantly more “white matter” and slightly less “gray matter” than those they were measured against, Raine said.
[Yaling] Yang, the study’s lead author, said the findings eventually could be used in making clinical diagnoses and may have applications in the criminal justice system and the business world.

“If [the findings] can be replicated and extended, they may have long-term implications in a number of areas,” said Yang, a doctoral student in the USC department of psychology’s brain and cognitive science program.

“For example, in the legal system they could potentially be used to help police work out which suspects are lying. In terms of clinical practice, they could help clinicians diagnose who is malingering – making up disability for financial gain.

“And also in business, they could assist in pre-employment screening, working out which individuals may not be suitable for hiring.

(University of Southern California)

I find this worrisome - how is this any different from profiling?

1 comment:

doris said...

It is worrying. Just because someone is an habitual liar doesn't mean that they are lying every time or at a point that it is crucial - say in a court of law.

And someone who is a liar, what does it benefit if they are labelled as such? They need help to learn not to lie - unless of course having a "diagnosis" can lead to getting help.