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Honesty More Rewarding for Liars

Update Date: Jan 23, 2014 06:00 PM EST

Even liars feel good when they tell the truth, according to a new study.

After reviewing two neural imaging studies that tracked brain activity, researchers at the University of Toronto found that people feel more satisfied when they get a reward from telling the truth rather than getting the same reward through deceit.

"Our findings together show that people typically find truth-telling to be more rewarding than lying in different types of deceptive situations," Professor Kang Lee from the University of Toronto said in a news release.

The studies looked at two different types of deception. One study looked at deception when recipients don't know the deceiver is lying and the other study looked deception when deceivers are fully aware that the recipient knows their intention, such as bluffing in poker.

Brain scans revealed that a liar's cortical reward system was more active when a reward was gained through honesty than lying. Researchers said this was true for both types of deception.

Researchers explain that the telling lies produced greater brain activations than telling the truth in the frontal lobe. This suggests that lying is cognitively more demanding than telling the truth and uses more neural resources.

The findings are published in the journal Neuropsychologia.

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