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Telling white lies actually changes how your brain works


woman thinking
Photo: Stocksy/Good Vibrations

Telling your friend you’re sick so you can’t meet up when you really just want to hang out solo at home watching Netflix. Reassuring your mom that her haircut really does look good (when you told her she shouldn’t have gone to that hairdresser down the street). Whispering to your partner that it was good for you too, really (when you’re just ready to get some sleep already). All these things sound like no big deal, right? Actually, they’re a very big deal.

According to a new study, white lies such as these can actually change the structure of your brain, resulting in some not-so great consequences down the road.

Researchers at University College London found that telling small lies desensitizes the brain to negative emotions. They studied test subjects’ brains as they lied for personal gains and found that the bigger the lie, the weaker the amygdala’s response was. In non-doctor speak, this means the brain played down negative feelings (like in the case of lying, guilt, and empathy). These results indicate that the more white lies you tell, the more the negative feelings are buried, making it emotionally easier to lie.

Consider this your warning if you’re dating someone who has a penchant for telling little fibs. According to this scientific study, that Pinocchio nose is only going to grow.

Something else that may be messing with your mind: technology. But this low-tech productivity hack can give your brain a boost, experts say.