What Made George Santos Lie So Much? Experts Weigh In on His Deception.

Everyone lies. But very few lie quite like George Santos.

His lies are so breathtaking they shocked even the jaded denizens of Washington, who have a high tolerance for exaggeration and self-aggrandizement. Who makes up nearly everything — and then runs for public office? The lies that launched a thousand memes have become a staple for late-night comics and pundits. Can you believe this guy?

But George Santos (a.k.a. Anthony Santos, Anthony Devolder, Anthony Zabrovsky, Kitara Ravache and more) falls at the far end of the spectrum that deception experts use to identify a pathological liar: Someone who lies even when there’s no apparent reason not to tell the truth, with the intent to manipulate others. They are creative storytellers and great performers who make themselves the hero or the victim of their tall tales,rarely nervous or hesitant while telling them. In short, they can be very charming and persuasive. (Santos’s office did not respond to a request for comment.)

Dissembling is just a part of it, says Christian Hart, a professor at Texas Woman’s University and the co-author of the upcoming book “Big Liars: What Psychological Science Tells Us About Lying and How You Can Avoid Being Duped.” “He’s not just lying, but he seems to have a long history of somewhat maliciously manipulating other people to live his life. This person isn’t just a liar, he’s a rule breaker, norm violator, risk taker, someone who seems to lack empathy and remorse on a more global scale.”

In Hart’s studies of people who lie excessively, he sees mixed motivations. “In one study, we found that low self-esteem was one of the strongest personality predictors of someone’s tendency to lie — and so this pervasive sense of being inadequate and worrying that you’re not going to measure up. … On the other hand, we conducted other research that suggested that having kind of a dark, manipulative personality also is associated with high levels of lying. These people see everyone is a pawn in their game, and they are happy to manipulate people to get exactly what they want.”

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