Psychologists have documented children lying as early as age two. Some experts even consider lying a developmental milestone, like crawling and walking, because it requires sophisticated planning, attention and the ability to see a situation from someone else’s perspective to effectively manipulate them.

Harvard cognitive neuroscientist Joshua Greene said for most of us, lying takes work. In studies, he presented study subjects with a chance to deceive for monetary gain while examining their brains in a functional MRI machine, which maps blood flow to active parts of the brain.

Some people told the truth instantly and instinctively. But others opted to lie, and they showed increased activity in their frontal parietal control network, which is involved in difficult or complex thinking. This suggests that they were deciding between truth and dishonesty — and ultimately opting for the latter.

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However in general and for most people, lying gets limited as we develop a sense of morality and the ability to self-regulate. A 2010 study on the prevalence of lying in America found that in a given 24-hour period, most adults reported not telling any lies. Almost half the lies recorded in the study could be attributed to just 5 percent of participants. And most people avoided lying when they could, turning to deception only when the truth was troublesome. (1)

We believe we do not tell any lies.

We like to believe we are moral.

But we start lying from the very first moment we wake up.

How are you?

Very good, thank you!

Yes, you will die.

You haven’t forgotten.

You just like lying to yourself.

Good morning.

Everything is not fine.

Petty little man.

Wake up.


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