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.
- Good Morning America segment on Darling’s research.
- More on Nancy Darling and her work.
- Previous Deception Blog posts on children and lying.