How to Keep Track of Your Lies

Lying isn’t hard—it’s remembering what lies you tell to whom that’s the trick. As it happens, some types of lies are easier to remember than others. Specifically, false descriptions seem to be easier to remember than false denials.

According to a new study published in the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, subjects asked to recall lies after a period of forty-eight hours were better able to recall false descriptions than false denials. The study’s authors say that inventing a false description is an act of creativity, which is what makes people more likely to recall details of their invention days later. However, a false denial doesn’t require much cognitive effort, thus making it less likely that a liar will recall their rebut days after the fact.

There is a caveat, however: people who are telling the truth may not be very good at recalling their denials either. Authors cite the “illusionary truth effect”, which is when you hear false information repeated, which makes it seem more truthful.

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