Genuinely I am not a good liar so I try and tell the truth – not because of any great moral or ethical reason but just because I dislike misleading people. The ability to lie is however interesting, it is something that links to my work on creativity and emotion as to be able to tell lies you have to be creative. Equally to be convincing you are usually manipulating your own and others emotions.
The ability to tell lies does however serve evolutionary survival and reproductive purposes and also ties in with my concepts of illusions of knowing – as often we lie to ourselves without knowing. So although telling lies is considered bad, and some of us feel bad when we lie – lies themselves are an important part our society. In fact lying is so embedded in our culture that it is difficult to disentangle from truth (what ever truth may be or mean). So children are told about a hairy old man (I am trying not to give the game away) who delivers presents every year. They are told to pretend they like their mad aunty and they are told not to tell granddad his breath smells. So deceit is both nurtured but very much in our nature. But lying is a delicate ecosystem – we also need to be able to spot liars as this too is an important part of survival and reproduction.
Changizi and his research team found that the eyes of Old World primates (including baboons, gorillas, and humans), particularly those who had less hair and exposed faces (okay and their backsides) are fine-tuned for detecting increased blood-oxygen levels in the skin—what most of us would call a blush. This visual sensitivity therefore helps animals read the moods of their kin and their enemies. If we add this to a whole range of body and verbal clues we can see that lying is a battle of the subtleties between the the deceiver and the deceived for reproductive and survival purposes. Interestingly it is also reported that females have the upper hand in the detection stakes as their ability to detect subtle changes in colour is greater – females can generally detect four basic colours whilst men largely can detect three (or less). This would correspond that with evolutionary theory that it is perhaps more important for reproductive purposes that females can spot liars better than men.