Category Archives: Children

A few deception tweets from recent days

  • Insurance “claim fraudsters think too much”. Some great Portsmouth Uni research covered by Irish Independent http://retwt.me/1P8R0
  • “If You Want to Catch a Liar, Make Him Draw” David DiSalvo @Neuronarrative on more great Portsmouth Uni research http://retwt.me/1P8ZB
  • fMRI scans of people with schizophrenia show they have same functional anatomical distinction between truth telling & deception as others http://bit.ly/aO5cI2 via @Forpsych
  • In press: Promising to tell truth makes 8- 16 year-olds more honest (but lectures on morality don’t). Beh Sciences & Law http://is.gd/fCa7X

Quick deception links for the last few weeks

Gah, Twitter update widget broken. Here are the deception-relevant tweets from the last few weeks:

Polygraph and similar:

  • Detecting concealed information w/ reaction times: Validity & comparison w/ polygraph App Cog Psych 24(7) http://is.gd/fhPMW
  • Important (rare) study on polygraph w/ UK sex offenders: leads to more admissions; case mgrs perceive increased risk http://is.gd/eoW4Q

fMRI and other brain scanning:

  • If Brain Scans Really Detected Deception, Who Would Volunteer to be Scanned? J Forensic Sci http://is.gd/eiz2o
  • FMRI & deception: “The production and detection of deception in an interactive game” in Neuropsychologia http://is.gd/eUMO3
  • In the free access PLoS1: fMRI study indicates neural activity associated with deception is valence-related. PLoS One 5(8). http://is.gd/f6IaM

Verbal cues:

  • Distinguishing truthful from invented accounts using reality monitoring criteria – http://ht.ly/2z8FC
  • Detecting Deceptive Discussions in Conference Calls. Linguistic analysis method 50-65% accuracy. SSRN via http://is.gd/eI0bA
  • Effect of suspicion & liars’ strategies on reality monitoring Gnisci, Caso & Vrij in App Cog Psy 24:762–773 http://is.gd/eCFyA

Applied contexts:

  • A new Canadian study on why sex offenders confess during police interrogation (no polygraph necessary) http://is.gd/eoWl7
  • Can fabricated evidence induce false eyewitness testimony? App Cog Psych 24(7) http://is.gd/fhPDd Free access
  • In press, B J Soc Psy Cues to deception in context. http://is.gd/fhPcY Apparently ‘context’ = ‘Jeremy Kyle Show’. Can’t wait for the paper!
  • Can people successfully feign high levels of interrogative suggestibility & compliance when given instructions to malinger? http://ht.ly/2z8Wz

Kids fibbing:

  • Eliciting cues to children’s deception via strategic disclosure of evidence App Cog Psych 24(7) http://is.gd/fhPIS
  • Perceptions about memory reliability and honesty for children of 3 to 18 years old – http://ht.ly/2z8O1

And some other links of interest:

Research round-up 6: And finally, kids’ lies, online lies and my deception book of the year

Happy new year! Here is the final part of the 2008 deception research round-up, put together to make amends for having neglected this blog over the past few months. This post includes bits and pieces of deception research that didn’t fit too well into the first five round-up posts. Hope you’ve enjoyed them all!

Children

First, a couple of articles about how children learn to lie:

Eye gaze plays a pivotal role during communication. When interacting deceptively, it is commonly believed that the deceiver will break eye contact and look downward. We examined whether children’s gaze behavior when lying is consistent with this belief. …Younger participants (7- and 9-year-olds) broke eye contact significantly more when lying compared with other conditions. Also, their averted gaze when lying differed significantly from their gaze display in other conditions. In contrast, older participants did not differ in their durations of eye contact or averted gaze across conditions. Participants’ knowledge about eye gaze and deception increased with age. This knowledge significantly predicted their actual gaze behavior when lying. These findings suggest that with increased age, participants became increasingly sophisticated in their use of display rule knowledge to conceal their deception.

The relation between children’s lie-telling and their social and cognitive development was examined. Children (3-8 years) were told not to peek at a toy. Most children peeked and later lied about peeking. Children’s subsequent verbal statements were not always consistent with their initial denial and leaked critical information revealing their deceit. Children’s conceptual moral understanding of lies, executive functioning, and theory-of-mind understanding were also assessed. Children’s initial false denials were related to their first-order belief understanding and their inhibitory control. Children’s ability to maintain their lies was related to their second-order belief understanding. Children’s lying was related to their moral evaluations. These findings suggest that social and cognitive factors may play an important role in children’s lie-telling abilities.

Technotreachery – lying via CMC

It’s a popular topic and the literature is growing all the time. Here’s some of the new research published in 2008 about lying in computer-mediated communication:

This study aimed to elaborate the relationships between sensation-seeking, Internet dependency, and online interpersonal deception. Of the 707 individuals recruited to this study, 675 successfully completed the survey. The results showed high sensation-seekers and high Internet dependents were more likely to engage in online interpersonal deception than were their counterparts.

Deception research has been primarily studied from a Western perspective, so very little is known regarding how other cultures view deception… this study proposes a framework for understanding the role Korean and American culture plays in deceptive behavior for both face-to-face (FTF) and computer-mediated communication (CMC). … Korean respondents exhibited greater collectivist values, lower levels of power distance, and higher levels of masculine values than Americans. Furthermore, deceptive behavior was greater for FTF communication than for CMC for both Korean and American respondents. In addition to a significant relationship between culture and deception, differences were found between espoused cultural values and deceptive behavior, regardless of national culture. These results indicate the need for future research to consider cultural differences when examining deceptive behavior.

This study set out to investigate the type of media individuals are more likely to tell self-serving and other-oriented lies, and whether this varied according to the target of the lie. One hundred and fifty participants rated on a likert-point scale how likely they would tell a lie. Participants were more likely to tell self-serving lies to people not well-known to them. They were more likely to tell self-serving lies in email, followed by phone, and finally face-to-face. Participants were more likely to tell other-oriented lies to individuals they felt close to and this did not vary according to the type media. Participants were more likely to tell harsh truths to people not well-known to them via email.

Detecting deception

OK, I know this probably could have gone into an earlier post. However, it does involve a bit of machinery so it didn’t fit in part 1, but the machinery has been in use for several decades so it couldn’t really fit in post 2.

An increasing number of researchers are exploring variations of the Concealed Knowledge Test (CKT) as alternatives to traditional ‘lie-detector’ tests. For example, the response times (RT)-based CKT has been previously shown to accurately detect participants who possess privileged knowledge. Although several studies have reported successful RT-based tests, they have focused on verbal stimuli despite the prevalence of photographic evidence in forensic investigations. Related studies comparing pictures and phrases have yielded inconsistent results. The present work compared an RT-CKT using verbal phrases as stimuli to one using pictures of faces. This led to equally accurate and efficient tests using either stimulus type. Results also suggest that previous inconsistent findings may be attributable to study procedures that led to better memory for verbal than visual items. When memory for verbal phrases and pictures were equated, we found nearly identical detection accuracies.

Deception book of the year

And finally, an important publication in 2008 was the second edition of Aldert Vrij’s Detecting Lies and Deceit: Pitfalls and Opportunities. The first edition (published in 2000) has been one of my key references for scholarly research on deception, along with Paul Ekman’s Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics and Marriage and Granhag and Stronwall’s edited volume on The Detection of Deception in Forensic Contexts. Not surprising then that Vrij’s second edition is already one of the most frequently consulted volumes on my deception bookshelf.

Vrij says that he did not originally envisage updating his 2000 book until at least 2010, but felt with the increasing amount of new research in this area, and increasing interest from law enforcement and security agencies in detecting deception that he could not wait that long. The result is a volume that is substantially updated with research published up to about the middle of 2007. The book has been completely rewritten and there are several new chapters covering recent developments in mechanical methods of deception detection, including brain scanning technologies (e.g., fMRI, P300 brain waves), thermal imaging and voice stress analysis. Vrij also adds a helpful chapter on how professionals can become better lie detectors.

It’s not perfect – I’d welcome more detail on on understanding the reasons why people lie (the book is mostly about catching liars), more on creating a context in which someone is more likely to tell the truth, and more discussion of cross-cultural differences in deception (though to be fair there is shockingly little research in this area to discuss). But despite these criticisms, Vrij’s new book remains a ‘must have’ reference for academics and professionals interested in up-to-date research on deception detection. Practitioners in particular should heed Vrij’s warning about over-hyped techniques for ‘deception detection': as Vrij says, the best way to avoid falling for the hype is by keeping up to date with the independent, objective research on deception detection. This book is a great tool for giving yourself a grounding in that research.

Phew. Six months’ blogging in 6 days. Hope you enjoyed it!

Adults easily fooled by children’s false denials

University of California – Davis press release (17 August):

Adults are easily fooled when a child denies that an actual event took place, but do somewhat better at detecting when a child makes up information about something that never happened, according to new research from the University of California, Davis….

“The large number of children coming into contact with the legal system – mostly as a result of abuse cases – has motivated intense scientific effort to understand children’s true and false reports,” said UC Davis psychology professor and study author Gail S. Goodman. “The seriousness of abuse charges and the frequency with which children’s testimony provides central prosecutorial evidence makes children’s eyewitness memory abilities important considerations. Arguably even more important, however, are adults’ abilities to evaluate children’s reports.”

In an effort to determine if adults can discern children’s true from false reports, Goodman and her co-investigators asked more than 100 adults to view videotapes of 3- and 5-year-olds being interviewed about “true” and “false” events. For true events, the children either accurately confirmed that the event had occurred or inaccurately denied that it had happened. For “false” events – ones that the children had not experienced – they either truthfully denied having experienced them or falsely reported that they had occurred.

Afterward, the adults were asked to evaluate each child’s veracity. The adults were relatively good at detecting accounts of events that never happened. But the adults were apt to mistakenly believe children’s denials of actual events.

“The findings suggest that adults are better at detecting false reports than they are at detecting false denials,” Goodman said. “While accurately detecting false reports protects innocent people from false allegations, the failure to detect false denials could mean that adults fail to protect children who falsely deny actual victimization.”

Learning to lie

From New York Magazine (10 Feb), a detailed article on how kids learn to lie:

Kids lie early, often, and for all sorts of reasons—to avoid punishment, to bond with friends, to gain a sense of control. But now there’s a singular theory for one way this habit develops: They are just copying their parents.

… In the last few years, a handful of intrepid scholars have decided it’s time to try to understand why kids lie. For a study to assess the extent of teenage dissembling, Dr. Nancy Darling… recruited a special research team of a dozen undergraduate students, all under the age of 21… “They began the interviews saying that parents give you everything and yes, you should tell them everything,” Darling observes. By the end of the interview, the kids saw for the first time how much they were lying and how many of the family’s rules they had broken. Darling says 98 percent of the teens reported lying to their parents.

… For two decades, parents have rated “honesty” as the trait they most wanted in their children. Other traits, such as confidence or good judgment, don’t even come close. On paper, the kids are getting this message. In surveys, 98 percent said that trust and honesty were essential in a personal relationship. Depending on their ages, 96 to 98 percent said lying is morally wrong.

So when do the 98 percent who think lying is wrong become the 98 percent who lie?

Full article here.

See also:

Quick round up of deception news

Sorry for the slow posting recently – real life is getting in the way of blogging at the moment., and is likely to continue to do so for some time yet, so please bear with me. Perhaps some of these items will give you your deception research fix in the meantime.

If you’d like something to listen to during the daily commute why not download an interview with John F. Sullivan, author of Gatekeeper: Memoirs of a CIA Polygraph Examiner (h/t Antipolygraph Blog).

Alternatively, try a short NPR Morning Edition segment on the neuropsychology of lying (h/t and see also The Frontal Cortex).

The ever-interesting BPS Research Digest discusses a study of how toddlers tell a joke from a mistake. According to the researchers, Elena Hoicka and Merideth Gattis:

…the ability to recognise humorous intent comes after the ability to recognise jokes, but before the ability to recognise pretense and lies. “We propose that humour understanding is an important step toward understanding that human actions can be intentional not just when actions are right, but even when they are wrong,” they concluded.

Karen Franklin has a terrific commentary on the Wall Street Journal’s discussion of a subscale of the MMPI, which claims to detect malingerers but which, according to critics, results in a large number of false positives (i.e., labelling truthful test-takers as malingerers). (See also a short commentary by Steven Erikson).

There are two articles by Jeremy Dean of the glorious PsyBlog on false memories (here and here).

And finally, Kai Chang at Overcoming Bias reports on an unusual teaching technique which involves asking students to spot the Lie of the Day.

To lie or not to lie: To whom and under what circumstances.

Here’s an interesting article that I missed from last year on how teenagers judge the acceptabillity of lying in different situations. The abstract explains:

This research examined adolescents’ judgments about lying to circumvent directives from parents or friends in the moral, personal, and prudential domains. One hundred and twenty-eight adolescents (12.1-17.3 years) were presented with situations in which an adolescent avoids a directive through deception. The majority of adolescents judged some acts as acceptable, including deception regarding parental directives to engage in moral violations and to restrict personal activities. Other acts of deception were judged as unacceptable, including deception of parents regarding prudential acts, as well as deception of friends in each domain. In addition, lying to conceal a misdeed was negatively evaluated. Most adolescents thought that directives from parents and friends to engage in moral violations or to restrict personal acts were not legitimate, whereas parental directives concerning prudential acts were seen as legitimate. Results indicate that adolescents value honesty, but sometimes subordinate it to moral and personal concerns in relationships of inequality.

Reference:

How children grow into expert liars

secretschildrenThe APA’s Monitor on Psychology this month has an entertaining and interesting article about how children lie, and how we get better at deceiving as we grow up. Here’s a taster, but you can read the whole thing for free on the APA site here.

…As humans, we are as much defined by our economy with the truth as we are by our cooperation. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, say psychologists. Lying is a cognitive signal that people understand what others are thinking, the important cognitive milestone known as theory of mind. As children grow older, their lying becomes more sophisticated and takes on the characteristics of their respective cultures, revealing to psychologists rich cognitive properties beneath the deceptively common practice.

Children first begin lying verbally around age 3, the time when language development and the ability to control one’s own mental skills combine to form a child’s theory of mind. Also at this age, children have learned their parents’ rules and the consequences of breaking them. …A child’s initial lies tend to be of the punishment-escaping variety. They’re not yet aware of the moral qualms associated with lying… It’s essentially a logic puzzle to them.

… By age 4, children can reliably tell the difference between harmful lies and little white ones, and they stop lying indiscriminately. But, as any lawyer can tell you, the lies don’t drop out altogether. Instead, children develop lying into a social skill.

The article goes on to describe several recent research studies, including a great experiment by psychologist Victoria Talwar from McGill University which demonstrated how lying sophistication increases with age.

Reference:

Photo credit: michaelatacker, Creative Commons License.

Babies deceive their parents shock!

babyDr. Vasudevi Reddy from the University of Portsmouth has garnered a fair amount of publicity for a study that “identified seven categories of deception used between six months and three-years-old”, according to the Daily Telegraph (1 July), which also reveals:

Whether lying about raiding the biscuit tin or denying they broke a toy, all children try to mislead their parents at some time. Yet it now appears that babies learn to deceive from a far younger age than anyone previously suspected. Behavioural experts have found that infants begin to lie from as young as six months. Simple fibs help to train them for more complex deceptions in later life. Until now, psychologists had thought the developing brains were not capable of the difficult art of lying until four years old.

[…] Infants quickly learnt that using tactics such as fake crying and pretend laughing could win them attention. By eight months, more difficult deceptions became apparent, such as concealing forbidden activities or trying to distract parents’ attention. By the age of two, toddlers could use far more devious techniques, such as bluffing when threatened with a punishment.

Reddy’s findings feature in an article in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, the abstract of which reveals:

[…] We still do not have a full picture of the development of deceptive actions in human infants and toddlers or an explanation of why it emerges. This paper applies Byrne & Whiten’s functional taxonomy of tactical deception to the social behaviour of human infants and toddlers using data from three previous studies. The data include a variety of acts, such as teasing, pretending, distracting and concealing, which are not typically considered in relation to human deception. This functional analysis shows the onset of non-verbal deceptive acts to be surprisingly early. Infants and toddlers seem to be able to communicate false information (about themselves, about shared meanings and about events) as early as true information. It is argued that the development of deception must be a fundamentally social and communicative process and that if we are to understand why deception emerges at all, the scientist needs to get ‘back to the rough ground’ as Wittgenstein called it and explore the messy social lives in which it develops.

In a quick search I couldn’t find the “three previous studies” referred to, but I did find some other work from Reddy that indicates she has been conducting research in this area for some time. This is from the abstract of Newton, Reddy & Bull, 2000:

…the deceptions of a 21/2-year-old child over a 6-month period were shown to be varied, flexible, context appropriate and too complex to be ‘blind’ learned strategies. It is argued that children’s deceptive skills develop from pragmatic need and situational exigencies rather than from conceptual developments; they may learn to lie in the same way as they learn to speak.

References:

Hat tips to:

Photo credit: McBeth, Creative Commons License

Lying in the elementary school years

secretschildrenMore research on how we learn to lie:

The development of lying to conceal one’s own transgression was examined in school-age children. Children (N = 172) between 6 and 11 years of age were asked not to peek at the answer to a trivia question while left alone in a room. Half of the children could not resist temptation and peeked at the answer. When the experimenter asked them whether they had peeked, the majority of children lied. However, children’s subsequent verbal statements, made in response to follow-up questioning, were not always consistent with their initial denial and, hence, leaked critical information to reveal their deceit. Children’s ability to maintain consistency between their initial lie and subsequent verbal statements increased with age. This ability is also positively correlated with children’s 2nd-order belief scores, suggesting that theory of mind understanding plays an important role in children’s ability to lie consistently. (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved

Last month we reported that according to a study by Leif A. Strömwall, Pär Anders Granhag and Sara Landström, by the ages of 11-14, children are able to deceive adults 54% of the time, when given the chance to prepare their lies (and even when they can’t prepare the figure is 43% …).

Reference:

Photo credit: michaelatacker, Creative Commons License.

Children’s prepared and unprepared lies: can adults see through their strategies?

Just to show how bad people are at detecting lies, even 11-13 year old kids can easily pull the wool over our eyes! Leif Stromwall and collegues in Sweden found that adults could do no better than 46% accuracy when children had a chance to prepare their lies. Even when lies were not prepared they only got 57% correct:

We investigated adults’ ability to detect children’s prepared and unprepared lies and truths. Furthermore, we examined children’s strategies when lying. Thirty children (11-13 years) were interviewed about one self-experienced and one invented event each. Half had prepared their statements, the other half not. Sixty adult observers assessed the veracity of 10 videotaped statements each. Overall deception detection accuracy (51.5%) was not better than chance. The adults showed higher accuracy for unprepared statements (56.6%), than prepared statements (46.1%). The adults reported to have used more verbal than nonverbal cues to deception, especially the Detail criterion. The most frequent verbal strategy reported by the children was to use real-life components (e.g. own or others’ experiences); the most frequent nonverbal strategy was to stay calm. Arguably, the low accuracy is due to adults’ failure to see through the lying children’s strategies. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Reference:

New research: Cross-Cultural Differences in Children’s Choices, Categorizations, and Evaluations of Truths and Lies

secretschildrenFrom the latest issue of Developmental Psychology, some Canadian-Chinese collaborative research on how children evaluate truth and lies.

From the abstract:

This study examined cross-cultural differences and similarities in children’s moral understanding of individual- or collective-oriented lies and truths. […] Most children in both cultures labeled lies as lies and truths as truths. The major cultural differences lay in choices and moral evaluations. Chinese children chose lying to help a collective but harm an individual, and they rated it less negatively than lying with opposite consequences. Chinese children rated truth telling to help an individual but harm a group less positively than the alternative. Canadian children did the opposite. These findings suggest that cross-cultural differences in emphasis on groups versus individuals affect children’s choices and moral judgments about truth and deception.

Reference:

Photo credit: michaelatacker, Creative Commons License.

What Influences Believing Child Sexual Abuse Disclosures?

A University of Orgeon press release (13 Feb) highlights research that explores some of the influences on whether someone is sceptical of a disclosure about child sexual abuse:

A University of Oregon study has found that young men who have never been traumatized are the least likely population to believe a person’s recounting of child sexual abuse. The study – published in the March issue of the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly – also finds that males with high sexism beliefs also tend to believe that such incidents, if they happened at all, were not harmful to the victim.

Some 80,000 cases of child sexual abuse are reported annually in the United States, according to federal statistics. Jennifer Freyd, a UO professor of psychology and co-author of the new study […has] been studying the factors that may explain why some people don’t believe that such abuses occur, a phenomenon that discourages victims from speaking out and allows perpetrators to escape unpunished and possibly repeat such crimes.

Reference and abstract:

This vignette study investigated factors that influence believing child sexual abuse disclosures. College student participants (N= 318) in a university human subject pool completed measures about their own trauma history and responded to questions about sexist attitudes. Participants then read vignettes in which an adult disclosed a history of child sexual abuse, rated disclosures for accuracy and believability, and judged the level of abusiveness. Continuous memories were believed more than recovered memories. Men believed abuse reports less than did women, and people who had not experienced trauma were less likely to believe trauma reports. Gender and personal history interacted such that trauma history did not impact women’s judgments but did impact men’s judgments. Men with a trauma history responded similarly to women with or without a trauma history. High sexism predicted lower judgments of an event being abusive. Hostile sexism was negatively correlated with believing abuse disclosures. Results are considered in light of myths about child sexual abuse.

Repeated Questions, Deception, and Children’s True and False Reports of Body Touch

Can you rely on consistency as an indicator of truthfulness in children’s eyewitness accounts? Jodi Quas and colleagues have just published a study in the journal Child Maltreatment that suggests that we probably cannot. Just one of several interesting findings in this paper on behaviour of children lying or telling the truth about being touched. From the abstract:

Four- to 7-year-olds’ ability to answer repeated questions about body touch either honestly or dishonestly was examined. Children experienced a play event, during which one third of the children were touched innocuously. Two weeks later, they returned for a memory interview. Some children who had not been touched were instructed to lie during the interview and say that they had been touched. Children so instructed were consistent in maintaining the lie but performed poorly when answering repeated questions unrelated to the lie. Children who were not touched and told the truth were accurate when answering repeated questions. Of note, children who had been touched and told the truth were the most inconsistent. Results call into question the common assumption that consistency is a useful indicator of veracity in children’s eyewitness accounts. © 2007 SAGE Publications

Reference:

NOTE: Sage Publications is currently running one of its regular free access offers. Until 28 February you can download this article for free. More details.

How we learn to lie to be polite…

From the latest issue of International Journal of Behavioral Development (Vol. 31, No. 1), a Canadian study of children’s lies. From the abstract:

Prosocial lie-telling behavior in children between 3 and 11 years of age was examined using an undesirable gift paradigm […] the majority of children told a white lie and this tendency increased with age. Coding of children’s facial expressions using Ekman and Friesen’s (1978) Facial Action Coding System revealed significant but small differences between lie-tellers and control children in terms of both positive and negative facial expressions. Detailed parental instruction facilitated children’s display of appropriate verbal and nonverbal expressive behaviors when they received an undesirable gift.

Reference:

Understanding malingering in children

From the December 2006 issue of the Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, a new study from Alicia Nagle and colleagues explores what happens when children are instructed to feign cognitive impairment in a learning test:

Thirty-five children ages 6–12 years were asked to complete two alternate forms of the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test-Revised (HVLT-R), once with the instruction to feign cognitive impairment and once instructed to do their best. They were also asked to complete the Test of Memory Malingering (TOMM). Regardless of condition, children performed comparably to adult norms on the TOMM, obtaining a score of 45 or above on Trial 2. Regarding the HVLT-R, differences emerged only when children were initially told to “do their best,” followed by a subsequent trial in which they were told feign impairment. Within this group of participants, children demonstrated significantly lower levels of learning across trials and fewer words recalled in comparison to when they were instructed to do their best. In contrast, no reliable differences on the HVLT-R were observed among children who were initially told to feign impairment and subsequently told to do their best. These results suggest that the elicitation of “feigned” impairment within this age group on the HVLT-R requires the initial provision of an opportunity for optimal performance. [Abstract © 2006 National Academy of Neuropsychology]

Reference:

Detecting Lies in Children and Adults

In the latest issue of Law and Human Behavior, an article reporting the results of a study by Gail S. Goodman and her colleagues exploring whether observers could detect children’s lies. The authors tested both adults’ ability to detect lies told by children and adults, with some interesting findings, notably that

  • observers detected children’s lies more accurately than adults’ lies
  • observers were more likely to detect adults’ truthful statements than children’s truthful statements
  • observers who were highly accurate in detecting children’s lies were similarly accurate in detecting adults’ lies
  • observers were biased toward judging adults’ but not children’s statements as truthful

In other words, the results suggest that we might be biased towards believing adults and disbelieving children. This has potentially important implications in forensic settings. For instance, might investigators and jurors be biased to believe that children are telling lies in abuse allegations? At the moment, of course, we cannot know, but it looks like an important and worthwhile area for further study.

Reference:

Follow the link above for the abstract on the publisher’s website.

Children and Understanding Lies

NPR Research News, 6 June 2005

Do children know when someone is lying? One researcher, writing recently in the journal Science, says children are capable of understanding the concepts of self-interest and unconscious bias — and can even see through a lie.

See also:

Children Develop Cynicism At An Early Age
Yale University press release

Reference:

Mills, CM and Keil, FC (2005) The Development of Cynicism. Psychological Science 16(5) pp385-

Two experiments explored the development of cynicism by examining how children evaluate other people who make claims consistent or inconsistent with their self-interests…

Detecting Deception in Children: An Experimental Study of the Effect of Event Familiarity on CBCA Ratings

Iris Blandon-Gitlin, Kathy Pezdek, Martha Rogers and Laura Brodie
Law and Human Behavior 29(2), April 2005, pp 187-197

The CBCA is the most commonly used deception detection technique worldwide. Pezdek et al. (2004) used a quasi-experimental design to assess childrenrsquos accounts of a traumatic medical procedure; CBCA ratings were higher for descriptions of familiar than unfamiliar events. This study tested this effect using an experimental design and assessed the joint effect of familiarity and veracity on CBCA ratings.

Children described a true or a fabricated event. Half described a familiar event; half described an unfamiliar event. Two CBCA-trained judges rated transcripts of the descriptions. CBCA scores were more strongly influenced by the familiarity than the actual veracity of the event, and CBCA scores were significantly correlated with age. CBCA results were compared with results from other measures. Together with the results of K. Pezdek et al. (2004) these findings suggest that in its current form, CBCA is of limited utility as a credibility assessment tool.

Detecting Deception in Children: An Experimental Study of the Effect of Event Familiarity on CBCA Ratings

Iris Blandon-Gitlin, Kathy Pezdek, Martha Rogers and Laura Brodie
Law and Human Behavior 29(2), pp 187-197, April 2005

The CBCA is the most commonly used deception detection technique worldwide. Pezdek et al. (2004) used a quasi-experimental design to assess childrenrsquos accounts of a traumatic medical procedure; CBCA ratings were higher for descriptions of familiar than unfamiliar events. This study tested this effect using an experimental design and assessed the joint effect of familiarity and veracity on CBCA ratings. Children described a true or a fabricated event. Half described a familiar event; half described an unfamiliar event. Two CBCA-trained judges rated transcripts of the descriptions. CBCA scores were more strongly influenced by the familiarity than the actual veracity of the event, and CBCA scores were significantly correlated with age. CBCA results were compared with results from other measures. Together with the results of K. Pezdek et al. (2004) these findings suggest that in its current form, CBCA is of limited utility as a credibility assessment tool.