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Lance’s Lie - Why we lie

Posted by Krystal Hundt on Mon, Mar 04, 2013 @ 09:02 AM

man on bike jpeg resized 600This month we are focusing on some of the root causes of why we lie. Today’s focus is another underlying cause of lying - the brain’s ability to make ‘yes and no’ type judgements. When this skill is overdeveloped, a person is driven to be right or appear right. That person often will make a snap decision or response and then need to back it up or repeat the lie.

All the publicity and attention that Lance Armstrong has recently received regarding whether or not he was lying about doping, makes me wonder what his brain skill profile would look like. In his interview with Oprah he mentioned that it was impossible to live up to this perfect, mythic story of what his life was. This perfect mythic story included being a happily married man and father, seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor. This story, which was created by him as well as for him, gained overwhelming momentum. Lance mentioned that his desire was to control every outcome of this story. He also referred to the fact that if/when someone said something he didn’t like, his natural instinct was to go on the offensive. This scenario seems to fall within the above-mentioned scenario. Lance seems to have been holding onto expectations of himself, whether put on him by himself or others. This desire to live up to these expectations may have been stronger than his brain’s ability to make yes and no judgements. In this case, the judgment could be … ‘No I shouldn’t take banned substances or blood dope or use transfusions to enhance my cycling performance.’ In Lance’s case, he said one big lie and repeated it many times. He made a judgment call, however poor it may have been, and followed it up with lies and denial.

This may be quite a scandalous and public scenario, however there are plenty of smaller, everyday occurrences. A son who says he definitely did not hit his sibling who is screaming and crying in the corner. A daughter who would never take cookies from the cupboard yet has cookie wrappers behind her bed. A spouse who says they didn’t break your favourite mug and yet they are the only other person in the house. An individual who allows a friend to take the fall for their choices in order to save face, even at the cost of that relationship. An employee that swears they finished a project that is in the next room unfinished. The desire to ‘save face’ can lead to exaggeration and/or outright fabrication or lying.

These are all scenarios of judgment skills being out of balance. These snap decisions may need to be backed up with 'little white lies' or a 'little stretch of the truth' or denial and deflection. We have probably all  experienced this scenario at one time or another in our lives. The concern arises when a pattern of this behaviour can be detected. We are not calling into question someone's heart or character, although these behaviours may make an impact there, we are talking about scenarios where the brain's abilities (or lack thereof) impact the way a person is able to function in day-to-day life. The good news? These skills can be developed.

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Topics: learning disabilities, parenting, lying, behaviour

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