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Telling The Truth More Rewarding Than Lying, Study Shows

Last updated Sept. 17, 2015

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD MPH

Fairfax County

According to Professor Kang Lee of the University of Toronto, the findings together show that people typically find truth-telling to be more rewarding than lying in different types of deceptive situations.


Two new neuroimaging studies published in the journals Neuropsychologiaand NeuroImage reveal that telling the truth gives people greater satisfaction than the same rewards given for deceit.

Two types of deception were explored. In the first type of deception, the recipient did not know that the deceiver was lying. In the second type of deception, the recipient was fully aware of deceiver’s intention, like bluffing in a poker game. The researchers found that the deceiver’s cortical reward system more active in both experiments when a reward was gained from telling the truth than through deception.

"Our findings together show that people typically find truth-telling to be more rewarding than lying in different types of deceptive situations," said Professor Kang Lee of the University of Toronto, whose research is funded in part by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

The two studies used a new neuroimaging technique called near-infrared spectroscopy in order to be one of the first to address the question whether lying brings more or less satisfaction than telling the truth.

Additional Resources:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S105381191301046X 

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0028393213001735

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Jan. 29, 2014
Last updated: Sept. 17, 2015