Sunday, November 25, 2007

Do Aspies Make Good Liars?

Don't ask me where I get these topics from (sigh). They usually come up because I read someone's comments about something in a forum and start applying them to myself to see if they fit.

The answer is;

Amongst People who don't know them very well - NO
Amongst Friends - YES.

Why is this?
There are a lot of social cues that people use to determine whether or not someone is lying. These include;
  • Eye Contact (which aspies have trouble doing)
  • Certain "nervous" body gestures like clasping hands (which aspies do naturally)
  • Differences in vocal tone (which aspies don't vary as much)
  • Facial Tics or twitches (which aspies often have naturally)

This means that when someone who doesn't know the aspie well is talking to them, they often interpret the aspie as lying even when they're telling the truth.

Conversely, when someone who knows the aspie and their behavior very well is talking to them, they won't be able to use these things as clues. They know that their friend does this all the time. Of course, if the person has reason to suspect that the aspie is lying, they may well be able to look further.

One strange thing is that NT's think that they can say "Look me in the eye and say....". The thing is, that whether we're lying or being truthful, it's pretty much impossible to look anyone in the eye for long. NT's only ask you to do that when they're suspicious of something but I don't think it helps either way. They'll always interpret it as a lie.


The other thing that I think aspies can do, certainly I can do, is...

Rewriting Memories
This is where you take an existing memory that you want to forget/erase and you spend time creating a replacement false memory. You then join it to the existing surrounding memories (ie: memories that occur just before and just after the event you want to forget) and replay those memories together over and over again in your head. This effectively changes the "extraction keys" to the new memory.

It takes a little time but eventually the new memory takes root and the old one fades. It doesn't fade entirely and it's possible for someone with a clear memory of the event to break though by discussing details. This can be quite painful for the aspie since they're usually painful memories anyway (things they want to forget) and it's a bit like re-living the experience in fast forward.

I've included rewriting memories here mainly because it's associated with falsifying information. I'm not really sure how useful it would be in an outright lying situation.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

i have a lot of times trouble with justice/authority that based their conclusions on eye/body language (the reality) more than factual evidence (the theory), and they put me in trouble and called me a liar a great number of times yet im a very honest person.

i remember rewriting memories myself as a child.

rewriting memories could be a very good way of lying, it can take some time but then u would lie very well since u would be convinced to tell the truth.

also i had gifts for acting, which i explain as "normal social life" is an acting session for an aspie, and also (the ability to rewrite memory / low ego) and u become the character.
My only problem on stage was remembering characters names :p

my father and mother have the same issues with authority, so it s probably innate behavior.

i remember in a great number of times my family telling me they would never know if i m joking or telling the truth, same with my close friends so i developped a kind of humour based on this ambiguity, where i state opinions contrary to my belief to make them appear ridiculous and then they realise it s not my opinion and i did it on purpose.

thx for the blog, very useful!

aduroyon@yahoo.ca

Damo said...

Lying, we suck. It breaks one of our rules and seeing as we don't understand bodylanguage (mentally) ours is screaming in big red neon lights its disagreement with our words. Thats why I shoot from the hip.
Re-writing memories - not really. Chameliorisation definitely. I'm a good blender.

Anonymous said...

My husband it a masterful liar to me, but he is like truth serum to strangers.

Anonymous said...

i definitely have the long-term memory associated with AS. (it isn't only for facts--i have memories of events from the time i was 18 months old.) maybe i'll try re-writing some bothersome ones. it wouldn't hurt to try.

i related to the other anonymous who said s/he often states the opposite of what s/he believes as a form of humor. often i'm taken seriously too. i've come to the conclusion that many off-the-spectrum don't understand irony. :)

blogspot said...

I agree with you that people with Aspergers are bad liars to strangers. I would know, I HAVE Aspergers Syndrome.

Veralee said...

I found your website today when I did a google search of "Asperger's and lying". My oldest daughter, now 9 years old, was diagnosed with Asperger's when she was 6 years old and has recently developed the habit of lying about absolutely everything! The interesting thing is that the way I can identify her lying is that she attempts (albeit awkwardly) to make eye contact with me when she is lying. Her eye contact is usually very poor, and as her mom, I may be the only person in the world in tune enough with her cues to know that eye contact is the sign. Other people think, "That's great, she looked you in the eye!" I think, "Oh great, she is lying!"

BlakeThePit said...

I've just begun reading through your blog and there's so much good information here it's hard to know where to even begin! My 10 year old cousin has been recently diagnosed with Asperger's and we're trying to learn how that should effect parenting, and how to handle specific issues with him.

He's never been very good at board games which is usually alright since he's not very competitive. Unfortunately, he's started to notice that in a group game he has the least amount of points of everyone. For awhile he just seemed depressed about it, then he discovered CHEATING. He's a pretty good cheater and it's made games very hard to play with him. We've told him this is the same as lying and that it is wrong, but he doesn't seem to understand.

We've gone so far as once discovering his cheating in a game, to not allow him to be named the winner, even if he has the most points. But that just seemed to make him angry and didn't solve our problem of him thinking it's okay to cheat. Any ideas as to how we could get this idea across to him? We really want to include him in this kind of social activity, but he needs to engage in it correctly. Help?

Gavin Bollard said...

Blake,

It really depends on the type of cheating that is taking place. If for example, the cheating is simply that he's throwing the dice funny, then that's not necessarily cheating.

If he's taking money from the monopoly bank, peeking at cards and putting them back etc... then it's something you can deal with.

The best you can do is warn him once that the behaviour is cheating and won't be tolerated.

If the behaviour repeats during the same session, remove him from the game. Don't allow him to finish but tell him he didn't win because in his mind, he did.

Make the consequences immediate.

Anonymous said...

Why would you rewrite a memory? Why not try and just work thru a bad memory... so that eventually, even tho the memory is bad, you can handle it and it doesn't bother you or affect your life in a negative way?

Gavin Bollard said...

I'm not quite sure how or when I discovered that I could rewrite memories. I think that it was when I was quite young and wanted to imagine things, so I started adding them in.

At first they were obvious fantasies, the dog talking to me etc... but as I got older I started using them when I got very emotionally upset.

It was only fairly recently that I started to realise that it probably wasn't a good thing to be able to do it.

Andreas said...

Interesting, I think I was 11 when I learned that I could rewrite memories. At first I thought it was great, for small annoyances, and changing my behaviour. Maybe a year later, I thought it was really dangerous, fearing that I could loose myself. It's really both creepy/charming to hear of others with that ability.

I agree that acting is basically our entire social life.

People often can't tell when I'm telling the truth or lying, so my sense of humor is very much the same as anonymous. Sometimes, I've gone entire friendships without ever stating my real opinions. Since people don't think like me, it rarely matters if I'm directly myself or not; playing Devil's Advocate is fun, and if they think I'm weird, hey, they would have thought so the other way around, but at least this way, I'm having fun : )

I never thought of body language & lying. I should look more into that. Eye contact feels empty/meaningless to me, so I always "lock-on". I've always laughed at the "look me in the eyes and say that" for a different reason, haha.

Frank Bostwick said...

I'm not sure that I can rewrite a memory. I feel I must be faithful in my storage of information, and that means I must not deliberately tamper with that information.
What I observe and retain I rely on to help me interpret the world around me, and allows me to function in this world. If I have received false information, either fed to me deliberately, or obtained and accepted as fact something which is not really true, and acting on that information gets me in trouble (as has happened)... Well, why would I want to deliberately screw myself?
If I wanted only to feel good, I suppose I could drink alcohol or take recreational drugs, and I have deliberately walked away from those things. So why would I alter my recording of reality? What I would possess would no longer be real, and I do not see any value in false memories.
I'm actually surprised to hear that someone with a good memory would even consider such a thing.

Anonymous said...

HELP! I have a 9 year old girl who is a high functioning aspie. She has begun to lie. I received an email from her teacher saying our 9 yr. old is taking the classroom pencils and sticking them in her desk. When questioned she denied it until the teacher said she was going to talk to her parents and then she confessed. This is the 2nd time she has lied to her teacher. How do i deal with the lying and what kind of consequences are appropriate?
Thanks for your suggestions.

Gavin Bollard said...

You need to stress that Lying is against the rules. Tie it in so that lying becomes a hard and fast black and white rule.

This will at least enable your daughter to know that when she lies, it's wrong.

Determining an appropriate punishment is difficult but it makes sense that whenever possible, it should fit the crime. Perhaps the best punishment would be for her to have to go and apologize to each person that she lied to and tell them the truth.

It won't take long for that to embarrass her enough that the lying stops happening.

Lenny Kam said...

O my! I have never heard of - or even thought of - rewriting a memory. Well, you learn something every day.

GRB65 said...

My 18 yr old daughter with Asperger's lies all the time. I can't trust her to tell me the truth, EVER. Even when I ask her, "Are you telling the truth, because I can check" she will say she is telling the truth. But time after time, she is lying anyway.
It's really disheartening because I can never trust her. She knows lying is wrong. She just thinks it's worth trying to get away with... I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Rewriting memories can be dangerous. I did this a lot as a child and as a young adult in order to fit in better. Eventually, it led to an identity crisis and a lot of anger when I realized I was dumbing myself down to fit into, what I consider, an undesirable "norm." I'm "weirder" now but lead a much more fulfilling life and have a lot more confidence and respect for myself.

Caitlin said...

My ASH seemed to agree with every thing I said when we were dating, but now I can see that he was able to say those things and sound sincere even when he wasn't. Now, I expect him to live up to those statements, but he can't because he doesn't really believe in them. Now he also lies to avoid explaining things, and to avoid making me mad. But no matter how many times I say that lying just makes whatever he did worse, and breaks trust, he still does it.

I saw good advice on how to teach Aspie children, but is it possible to teach Aspie adults who haven't yet learned that lying isn't okay? The trust in our marriage is basically gone.

Anonymous said...

@Caitlin....that is typical of most men not just men with Aspergers!...They'll say most anything to "get" you, almost believing themselves until they cannot keep up the act anymore. I really think it is just immaturity. There's a saying that men marry women hoping they'll never change and women marry men hoping they will change. I always say women just want men to change back into what they were pretending to be in the first place!