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% …).


Photo credit: michaelatacker, Creative Commons License.

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