Study Explains Why ‘Cheaters Never Tend To Only Cheat Once’


As the saying goes: Once a cheater, always a cheater.

Now depending on how skeptical people are, they choose whether or not to believe the depressing proverb.

A new study has linked dishonesty and the brain to explain why cheaters seem to continue to have affairs.

The findings, published under the name ‘The brain adapts to dishonesty‘, claims that a person’s guilt for lying diminishes every time they lie.

It is focused on the amygdala region of the brain which is the part that provides a negative response when humans lie – a response which weakens with every lie.

The study speculates ‘that the blunted response to repeated acts of dishonesty may reflect a reduction in the emotional response to these decisions or to their affective assessment and saliency’.

Neil Garret, co-author of the paper, said to Elite Daily:

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.

What our study and others suggest is a powerful factor that prevents us from cheating is our emotional reaction to it, how bad we feel essentially, and 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 any more.

Another possibility is that they never felt bad about cheating to begin with, so they didn’t need adaptation to occur, they were comfortable with it from the get-go.

The study looked at lying generally, and Garrett expressed how it would need to be modified for cheating in relationships because that tends t take place over a shorter timescale.

So before you lie, remember that each time you do it, you’re enabling yourself in the future.