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The More You Have to Pee, The Easier Lying May Be

Full bladders make for better fibs

(Anton Daix/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

If you’re going to lie, you may have an easier time doing it with a full bladder. According to a new study, the more a person needs to pee, the better they may be at lying.

At first, this may seem counterintuitive; it takes a lot of focus to work through a complicated lie, and it can be hard to think about anything else when you have to go, as anyone who has struggled to find a bathroom when their bladder feels full to the brim knows. But that same challenge to keep from peeing at the wrong place or time might actually help remove a person’s inhibition from lying.

As psychologist and study author Iris Blandón-Gitlin writes, lies and not peeing yourself have something in common: focus and self-control. According to her study, suppressing the urge to pee triggers inhibition control centers in the brain that may also make it easier for someone to lie, Lydia Chain writes for Popular Science.

Blandón-Gitlin’s work expands on a 2011 study which found that people with full bladders are better at suppressing their impulses for instant gratification. While it might be easier and gratifying in the moment to pee as soon as you feel the need, it could be problematic in the long term if you’re not in a place of situation where it’s socially acceptable, like a bathroom.

“When you activate the inhibitory control network in one domain, the benefits spill over to other tasks,” Blandón-Gitlin tells Sam Wong for New Scientist. “If it’s just enough to keep you on edge, you might be able to focus and be a better liar.”

In her study, Blandón-Gitlin compared how convincing two small groups of people were at lying to observers. One group had five sips of water, while the other had five glasses. After giving them enough time for the water to hit their bladders, each person had to tell a truth and a lie in front of a video camera. When the footage was later watched by observers, they found that the more a liar needed to pee, the better they were at comfortably constructing a complex lie, Chain writes. That suggests that up to a point, needing to pee could sharpen a person’s ability to convincingly tell a lie through words and body language.

“Lying is a very difficult task,” Blandón-Gitlin tells Chain. “You have to juggle a lot of information.”

While more research needs to be done, it might be worth waiting to use the bathroom if you absolutely need to lie.

About Danny Lewis

Danny Lewis is a multimedia journalist working in print, radio, and illustration. He focuses on stories with a health/science bent and has reported some of his favorite pieces from the prow of a canoe. Danny is based in Brooklyn, NY.

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