When it comes to cheating in relationships, we are told to be careful with serial cheaters. If a person is unfaithful to someone they will be unfaithful to you too. Or, as the saying goes “once a cheater, always a cheater.”
Whether you agree with this saying or not, there is a study which explains people’s dishonesty and why cheaters continue lying and being unfaithful.
The study called “The brain adapts to dishonesty” finds that every time a person lies, they feel less guilty about it.
The reason for this is the amygdala, an area of the brain that responds negatively when people lie – but each time someone is insincere, this response weakens.
Neil Garrett, a co-author of the study, said that their findings need yet to be tested to see whether they apply to infidelity in relationships, but he believes that a similar mechanism can apply.
“The idea would be the first time we commit adultery we feel bad about it. But the next time we feel less bad and so on, with the result that we can commit adultery to a greater extent,” Garrett said.
He added that the thing that prevents us from cheating is our emotional reaction to it – how awful we feel afterward. However, our brain’s adaptation to this process reduces our emotional reaction to it, thus allowing the cheating behavior.
Or, in other words, when it comes to serial cheaters, they probably have felt guilty and bad the first time they cheated, but they have cheated so many times that they have become accustomed to it and they no longer feel bad or guilty.
Another possibility is that they never felt guilty and bad in the first place, so they didn’t even need the adaptation process of the brain – they were feeling at ease from the get-go.
Finally, the little white lies that we tell can grow into more serious and big lies only because we learn how to better deal with them. Or, of course, we are sociopaths with no sense of guilt or shame whatsoever.