Becoming a better liar might be easier than you thought Welcome to ‘Journal Club’ – real papers by real scientists! Today: From ‘Consciousness and Cognition’ – ‘Controlling the bladder makes better liars’ Very interesting study, let me sum it up: The researchers tested people and their ability to lie. First, the participants were asked about their opinions on controversial topics, like gun laws or gay marriage. Afterwards, they were interviewed and filmed – some of them were asked to advocate their actual own opinions, the others were asked to advocate opinions that were completely opposing their own – so they were basically asked to lie. To encourage the participants to do their best lying, they were offered a small reward if they lied successfully. (Imagine you were supposed to advocate for the AfD without being sarcastic) Now the interesting part: Before the interview/experiment, the participants were divided into two groups: One was given 50 mL water each, the other one was given 700 mL. The participants were told this was for taste testing, so they wouldn’t make any connections to the interview. Also, everyone was asked to use the bathroom beforehand because there wouldn’t be any other opportunity to do so during the experiment. So this is how two groups of participants were set up: One with full bladders, the other one with empty bladders. The videos of the interview were then shown to an independent group of people who were asked to tell truth tellers from liars. They looked at cues like: Did the participants seem to think a lot or did they appear rather spontaneous? How confident was their body language? Were the arguments consistent? etc. And this was the result: Among the participants who had been asked to lie, those with full bladders were significantly less likely revealed as liars, because they appeared to be more convincing A full bladder seems to make you a better liar! Why is that? Controlling a full bladder and lying have one thing in common: They require self-inhibition You have to suppress your urge to pee just like you have to suppress the truth. Here, the so-called ‘Inhibitory Spillover Effect’ comes in Understanding this effect might be pretty useful for everyday life. When we think about self-inhibition, we’ll find it everywhere in our everyday life, like … when we try to refrain from chocolate, or when we try to fight back tears during a sad movie, or even when we try to keep our hands from shaking These situation might seem very different, but from a neurological point of view, they are similar, because with every type of self inhibition, the same brain areas are activated Now once these areas are activated, once we are inihibiting ourselves, we’ll find it easier to engage in further inhibitory tasks. Suppressing you urinal urge – a ‘physiological’ inhibition – promotes ‘cognitive inhibition’ required for lying. This is why is called ‘spillover’ effect Researchers have observed this in other situations, too: When you try to control your emotions during a sad movie, you’ll be less likely to eat a lot of junk food – and the other way around Maybe you’ve experienced this too: I sometimes experience something like a ‘f*ck it spillover effect’ Whenever I exercise a lot, I find it easy to also eat healthy But once I stop exercising, it’s like ‘f*ck it, give me the chips, might as well..’ Have you ever experienced an inhibitory spillover effect? Let me know in the comments. You’ll find the link to the full paper in the description, see you next time on ‘Journal Club’!