Serial infidelity: the brain adapts to ease guilt
March 30, 2017 1 comment
People who are unfaithful to their partner are likely to repeat such behaviour because of the way the brain adapts.
A recent study suggests that the more someone is dishonest, the less they will feel guilty about doing so in the future. This is due to a part of the brain called the amygdala which is responsible for negative feelings when someone lies. However each time that person is dishonest, the response from the amygdala is reduced as the brain adapts to this behaviour.
Princeton Neuroscience Institute researcher Neil Garrett was one of the study’s co-authors. Speaking to Elite Daily, he said it was possible the same principle could apply to infidelity. He explained that “a powerful factor that prevents us from cheating is our emotional reaction to it” but “the process of adaptation reduces this reaction, thereby allowing us to cheat more”.
“With serial cheaters, it could be the case that they initially felt bad about cheating, but have cheated so much they’ve adapted to their ways and simply don’t feel bad about cheating anymore.”
However it was also possible that some of those who have been unfaithful in the past never felt badly about it at all he continued. Therefore “they didn’t need adaptation to occur, they were comfortable with it from the get-go”.
Garrett’s experiment was designed to test people’s capacity to lie. Participants were told to help someone guess how many coins were in a jar. The person they were to help was only given a blurry image of the jar and the participants were told that they would be given a financial reward if the guess was too high.
Read the full study here.
Photo by Franklin Heijnen via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.
March 30, 2017