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Trump's lying seems to be getting worse. Psychology suggests there's a reason why.

Amused

Elite Member
Apr 14, 2001
53,987
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It's amazing people are snowed by this guy. I've always wondered how people are duped by TV preachers and used car salesmen.



https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/trump-s-lying-seems-be-getting-worse-psychology-suggests-there-ncna876486?utm_campaign=will-president-trump-make-it-to-the-end--4jQ8&utm_customer=think&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=opinary


Between when President Donald Trump assumed office in January 2017 and the end of April, the average number of public false or misleading statements he has made per day has been increasing. According to the Washington Post’s fact checkers on May 1, "for the president’s first 100 days, he averaged 4.9 claims a day... since we last updated this tally two months ago, the president has averaged about 9 claims a day."

This is a significant rise. Our calculations suggest that if the current escalation rate remains steady, by the end of his term the president could be making as many as 19 public false statements a day, on average.


To psychologists interested in the science of lying, Trump’s increasing mendacity presents an interesting question: What might be causing this growth?

We first considered whether the increase could be explained by reporting bias. In other words, perhaps more falsehoods have been reported over time, rather than actually presented by the president. We found this explanation to be unlikely, as the Washington Post fact checkers stated they have scrutinized every single tweet, speech, statement and interview by the president since last January. (Importantly, this analysis is confined to public statements and it is difficult to know whether there has been a change in Trump’s total falsehoods.)

So if not reporting bias, what can explain the temporal increase of these falsehoods? Perhaps past lies needed to be covered up by more lies, or repeated falsehoods were eventually perceived as true making subsequent repetition likely. Or maybe falsehoods led to positive consequences, reinforcing such behavior further. These are all plausible explanations. But our research points to yet another intriguing explanation — a biological process called emotional adaptation.

Emotion plays an important role in constraining dishonesty. If we feel bad when we lie, we are less likely to do so. But if this uncomfortable feeling were to magically disappear, research suggests we would in turn lie more. In one study, students who were given a pill called a beta-blocker, which reduces emotional arousal, were more likely to cheat on an exam than students who were given a placebo. In other words, without that uncomfortable physiological feeling that accompanies dishonest behavior, people were more likely to cheat.


Research we conducted at University College London with our colleagues Dan Ariely and Stephanie Lazzaro, which was published in 2016 in the journal Nature Neuroscience, showed that the intensity of the emotional response people experience when they act dishonestly is reduced every time they lie. And this reduction (which scientists call emotional adaptation) makes them likely to lie more over time.

In our experiment, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Center for Advanced Hindsight, we gave a group of 80 individuals the opportunity to lie again and again in a financial task in order to gain money at another person’s expense. We found that the volunteers started with relatively small lies, cheating by only a few cents, but slowly over the course of the experiment lied more and more. While they were doing so we recorded their brain activity using a brain imaging scanner. We found that the emotional network in the brain responded less with each additional lie. The greater the drop in the brain’s sensitivity to dishonesty, the more people lied the next time they had a chance.

Repeated dishonesty is a bit like a perfume you apply over and over. At first you easily detect the powerful scent of a new perfume. But over time and with more applications you can hardly sense its presence, so you apply more liberally. This happens because neurons in your olfactory bulb desensitize to the smell of the perfume. Similarly, it appears that our response to our own acts of dishonesty is strong at first, but over time decreases. Like students taking beta-blockers, your capacity for being dishonest increases.

The picture becomes more alarming when we consider that individuals adapt not only to their own dishonesty but also to that of others. Research Harvard professors Francesca Gino and Max Bazerman shows that people are less likely to criticize the unethical actions of others when such behavior increases gradually over time. Politically speaking, this suggests that voters (and perhaps even the president’s own advisors) may desensitize to the president’s falsehoods in the same way that they do to overused perfume, making them less likely to act to correct this pattern of behavior. The absence of sanctions could in turn be interpreted as a “green light” by the president.

Indeed, in a recent study of 2,500 U.S. citizens, the psychologist Birony Swire-Thompson found that Trump supporters’ intentions to vote for him were not affected by learning that the president had provided false information. And a recent Gallup poll showed that while the percentage of Americans who believe the president is “honest and trustworthy” has decreased from 46 percent in February to 36 percent in April, his approval ratings remained relatively stable. Indeed, in the past few months his approval rating continues to rise.

It is thus likely that we will observe a continuing increase in the number of falsehoods emanating from the Oval Office, accompanied by less and less outrage from the public.
 
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Bitek

Diamond Member
Aug 2, 2001
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Long ass post to say Trumpets are fking idiots and they'll only get dumber bc science.

...yay...
 

woolfe9998

Lifer
Apr 8, 2013
13,474
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I am skeptical of the hypothesis that Trump has recently become more comfortable with lying through repetition because the fact is, he's been lying his entire life, since long before ever having been elected. As to why he's up to 9 lies a day from 4.5, my guess is that it's down to increasing desperation as various problems close in on him, including the consequences of past lies.
 

tweaker2

Lifer
Aug 5, 2000
12,195
3,517
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I am skeptical of the hypothesis that Trump has recently become more comfortable with lying through repetition because the fact is, he's been lying his entire life, since long before ever having been elected. As to why he's up to 9 lies a day from 4.5, my guess is that it's down to increasing desperation as various problems close in on him, including the consequences of past lies.
My sentiments exactly. For the fact that his every lie is now being held accountable to himself where they weren't in his private life fixes him in a place where he can't run, bully or litigate his way out of his own falsehoods as he did before he got elected.

Well, with the exception being those folks who went all in when they bet on Trump to win and "drain the swamp". lol

edit - syntax
 
Last edited:

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
72,594
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I am skeptical of the hypothesis that Trump has recently become more comfortable with lying through repetition because the fact is, he's been lying his entire life, since long before ever having been elected. As to why he's up to 9 lies a day from 4.5, my guess is that it's down to increasing desperation as various problems close in on him, including the consequences of past lies.
This is exactly what I was going to say.
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
67,353
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This is exactly what I was going to say.
I disagree with the three of you. You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but it takes working up to to realize you can fool enough of the people enough of the time to become a dictator. Lying is an interesting subject in it's own right, but let's not forget that the purpose behind Trumps lies is criminal intent. People like to have assurances of success before they commit treason. There is a difference between the hope you can shoot somebody on 5th Avenue and get away with it, and acquiring real evidence of that fact to the point of knowing it. The breaking of a horse to the point where the saddle can be mounted requires time to establish.
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
72,594
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I disagree with the three of you. You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but it takes working up to to realize you can fool enough of the people enough of the time to become a dictator. Lying is an interesting subject in it's own right, but let's not forget that the purpose behind Trumps lies is criminal intent. People like to have assurances of success before they commit treason. There is a difference between the hope you can shoot somebody on 5th Avenue and get away with it, and acquiring real evidence of that fact to the point of knowing it. The breaking of a horse to the point where the saddle can be mounted requires time to establish.
The point is that he's been a pathological liar his entire life. Long before he became president someone said of him 'he'd lie to you about the weather just to keep in practice'. If anything it seems that becoming president briefly tamped down his propensity to lie about everything but now that he's confronted with an existential crisis he's reverted to form because that's what he knows.
 
Jan 25, 2011
16,138
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I am skeptical of the hypothesis that Trump has recently become more comfortable with lying through repetition because the fact is, he's been lying his entire life, since long before ever having been elected. As to why he's up to 9 lies a day from 4.5, my guess is that it's down to increasing desperation as various problems close in on him, including the consequences of past lies.
I suspect part of it is also related to the fact that he is now having to weigh in on more and more things and he has stacks of lies on top of lies now. But yeah he's always been a lying piece of stool.
 

Hayabusa Rider

Admin Emeritus & Elite Member
Jan 26, 2000
50,872
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The point is that he's been a pathological liar his entire life. Long before he became president someone said of him 'he'd lie to you about the weather just to keep in practice'. If anything it seems that becoming president briefly tamped down his propensity to lie about everything but now that he's confronted with an existential crisis he's reverted to form because that's what he knows.
We know Trump lies and that pathologies exist which allow for such behaviors, but humans, even Trump, are complex organisms where comorbidity exists. It would take expert evaluation based on formal criteria to say if my hypothesis is correct, but, Trump may have a baseline behavior which is influenced by his surroundings that allows the researcher's effects to have a greater effect. One underlying condition which is reinforced by other things, like depression is with chronic pain.

People should understand that researchers aren't in the business of passing a moral judgment, but are interested in understanding the underpinnings of behavior. At the more extreme level, one might say "Hitler was evil, look at the misery he caused". That is a moral judgment and I won't say more along that line, but WHY did he do what he did? In the sense that Ahab from Moby Dick meant, what is behind the pasteboard mask? What lies underneath that forms a man in such a way that he can kill millions, or more recently, lie like a Trump.

I don't think that Trump's behavior relies on one thing exclusively, or at least do not have to.
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
67,353
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Normal psychology does not apply to psychopathic con artists.
I don’t know enough to say. It could be that Trump isn’t really human in the sense that he is genetically defective in a capacity to feel emotion. I believe that some or most serial killers may be like that. Or it may be that he has been rendered incapable of feeling empathy by having any expression of it forced out of him by punishment. His moral evaluations run only in two modes, good people and bad people.
 

vi edit

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Oct 28, 1999
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He lies.
He never admits he was wrong.
Gets called on his bullshit.
Makes up even more lies to try and lie his way out.

Yes, that is going to eternally compound upon itself.
 
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Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
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The point is that he's been a pathological liar his entire life. Long before he became president someone said of him 'he'd lie to you about the weather just to keep in practice'. If anything it seems that becoming president briefly tamped down his propensity to lie about everything but now that he's confronted with an existential crisis he's reverted to form because that's what he knows.
Isn’t this exactly what one would see if what I said were a more fundamental explanation. We can say liars revert to lying when their lies are threatened, or we could also say that people who unconsciously hate themselves will not feel a need to lie if some aim they have isn’t being potentially thwarted, if some ego goal of self aggrandizement isn’t under threat. I just don’t accept that risk reward isn’t a constant calculation that egotists make between success and the risk of exposure and that calculation shifts according to past success. You also leave out the training the country has experienced as we normalize each of his moves into dictatorship. You know how to cook frogs.
 

zinfamous

No Lifer
Jul 12, 2006
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He lies.
He never admits he was wrong.
Gets called on his bullshit.
Makes up even more lies to try and lie his way out.

Yes, that is going to eternally compound upon itself.
Perhaps a smarter person than me can adapt the PERT formula to accurately capture the compounding rate of Trump lies over x "time."
 
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[DHT]Osiris

Diamond Member
Dec 15, 2015
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Perhaps a smarter person than me can adapt the PERT formula to accurately capture the compounding rate of Trump lies over x "time."

At the current rate, within three weeks we will be seeing at least 14 trump lies per hour.
 

Noah Abrams

Golden Member
Feb 15, 2018
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I don’t know enough to say. It could be that Trump isn’t really human in the sense that he is genetically defective in a capacity to feel emotion. I believe that some or most serial killers may be like that.
Most people who do not feel any emotion or empathy are not criminals. They never get into trouble with the law. They are your every day people. Anybody from a store clerk to a top shot executive. A housewife. Anybody really. Dr. Scott Peck spent a lot of time with prisoners and his conclusions was that most of them are not evil, in the true sense of the word. There is this fascinating book...he has wrote more than once, but this is the one I am talking about

People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil

https://www.amazon.com/People-Lie-Hope-Healing-Human/dp/0684848597
 
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Noah Abrams

Golden Member
Feb 15, 2018
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Normal psychology does not apply to psychopathic con artists.
There is no such thing as normal psychology, my friend. We all lack empathy to varying extent. When I kill a spider, there is this life I am stomping out. When I reply indifferently or angrily to someone, there is this lack of empathy in me.
 

Jhhnn

No Lifer
Nov 11, 1999
62,149
14,361
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We know Trump lies and that pathologies exist which allow for such behaviors, but humans, even Trump, are complex organisms where comorbidity exists. It would take expert evaluation based on formal criteria to say if my hypothesis is correct, but, Trump may have a baseline behavior which is influenced by his surroundings that allows the researcher's effects to have a greater effect. One underlying condition which is reinforced by other things, like depression is with chronic pain.

People should understand that researchers aren't in the business of passing a moral judgment, but are interested in understanding the underpinnings of behavior. At the more extreme level, one might say "Hitler was evil, look at the misery he caused". That is a moral judgment and I won't say more along that line, but WHY did he do what he did? In the sense that Ahab from Moby Dick meant, what is behind the pasteboard mask? What lies underneath that forms a man in such a way that he can kill millions, or more recently, lie like a Trump.

I don't think that Trump's behavior relies on one thing exclusively, or at least do not have to.
It's unnecessary to understand the motivations of a bullshit artist to understand that the person is a bullshit artist. That varies by degrees but Trump is at the extreme end of the spectrum. The only reason he cares about what other people feel, think or believe is to find a way to manipulate them.

If you can't spot the con then you're the mark.
 

interchange

Diamond Member
Oct 10, 1999
7,506
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Most people who do not feel any emotion or empathy are not criminals. They never get into trouble with the law. They are your every day people. Anybody from a store clerk to a top shot executive. A housewife. Anybody really. Dr. Scott Peck spent a lot of time with prisoners and his conclusions was that most of them are not evil, in the true sense of the word. There is this fascinating book...he has wrote more than once, but this is the one I am talking about

People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil

https://www.amazon.com/People-Lie-Hope-Healing-Human/dp/0684848597
The other side of the coin is that most criminals feel empathy and are not sociopaths.

Of course, there is a correlation between the two things.

As for Trump, I don't see much evidence he is ever compuncted about lying. That doesn't mean that he can't learn through experience. Sociopath or not, you can receive feedback for your actions.
 

Thebobo

Lifer
Jun 19, 2006
18,592
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I don't have any enlightening words on trump's condition but I want to contribute.

 

Hayabusa Rider

Admin Emeritus & Elite Member
Jan 26, 2000
50,872
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It's unnecessary to understand the motivations of a bullshit artist to understand that the person is a bullshit artist. That varies by degrees but Trump is at the extreme end of the spectrum. The only reason he cares about what other people feel, think or believe is to find a way to manipulate them.

If you can't spot the con then you're the mark.
I'm not afraid of science.
 

Hayabusa Rider

Admin Emeritus & Elite Member
Jan 26, 2000
50,872
4,214
126
It's unnecessary to understand the motivations of a bullshit artist to understand that the person is a bullshit artist. That varies by degrees but Trump is at the extreme end of the spectrum. The only reason he cares about what other people feel, think or believe is to find a way to manipulate them.

If you can't spot the con then you're the mark.
I science.
 

dank69

Lifer
Oct 6, 2009
28,235
10,948
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I don’t know enough to say. It could be that Trump isn’t really human in the sense that he is genetically defective in a capacity to feel emotion. I believe that some or most serial killers may be like that. Or it may be that he has been rendered incapable of feeling empathy by having any expression of it forced out of him by punishment. His moral evaluations run only in two modes, good people and bad people.
In my expert opinion I think one of the root causes is that he has led a completely insulated life. I do not believe he lacks empathy, and I base that opinion on the way he flip flops worse than Mitt. I think he is confronted by a family and he instantly supports universal healthcare. A few hours later and the family is no longer fresh in his mind and all his advisers have informed him why universal healthcare will make the US like Venezuela and bye bye UHC support. This makes him incredibly easy to manipulate. Well that and the fact that he would shiv his firstborn son if it would net him a positive public comment.

Of course, by expert, I mean some retard on a forum.
 

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