Emergence of Lying in Very Young Children

Developmental Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.21). 01/2013; 49(10). DOI: 10.1037/a0031409
Source: PubMed


Lying is a pervasive human behavior. Evidence to date suggests that from the age of 42 months onward, children become increasingly capable of telling lies in various social situations. However, there is limited experimental evidence regarding whether very young children will tell lies spontaneously. The present study investigated the emergence of lying in very young children. Sixty-five 2- to 3-year-olds were asked not to peek at a toy when the experimenter was not looking. The majority of children (80%) transgressed and peeked at the toy. When asked whether they had peeked at the toy, most 2-year-old peekers were honest and confessed to their peeking, but with increased age, more peekers denied peeking and thus lied. However, when asked follow-up questions that assessed their ability to maintain their initial lies, most children failed to conceal their lie by pretending to be ignorant of the toy's identity. Additionally, after controlling for age, children's executive functioning skills significantly predicted young children's tendency to lie. These findings suggest that children begin to tell lies at a very young age. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).

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Available from: Kang Lee, Oct 02, 2015
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    • "For children, the ability to tell lies is a developmental phenomenon that changes with age. Children's lie-telling emerges around 3 years of age (Evans and Lee, 2013; Lewis and others, 1989), when they show a rudimentary conceptual understanding of lies and rate lies negatively (e.g. Bussey, 1992, 1999; Lee and Ross, 1997; Lee and others, 1997; Siegal and Peterson, 1996, 1998). "
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    ABSTRACT: This study explored parent (N = 146) perspectives about situations in which they think it is acceptable to lie, how this corresponds to how they socialise their children about lie-telling and their children's actual behaviour. Results indicated the methods parents report using to teach their children about the acceptability of lie-telling are consistent with what they report teaching their children about lie-telling overall. Also, the frequency of lies that children told (N = 88) to protect themselves from psychological distress or conflict differed between those who were taught that lying is sometimes acceptable versus those taught it is never acceptable.
    Children &amp Society 08/2015; DOI:10.1111/chso.12139 · 0.73 Impact Factor
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    • "Children begin to lie by two years of age, and their first lies predominantly involve denials of transgressions (Talwar & Crossman 2012). In the lab, children's tendency to lie about committing minor transgressions quickly increases from two to four years of age (Evans & Lee 2013, Talwar et al. 2002). Children are also willing to lie to cover for others' transgressions (Talwar et al. 2004) and those in which they are jointly implicated (Lyon et al. 2008), and are more likely to lie for a parent than a stranger (Tye et al. 1999). "
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    ABSTRACT: This article reviews best practice for interviewing child witnesses. In most officially recognized abuse cases, the child previously disclosed abuse, making it possible to elicit disclosures without asking closed-ended questions. Interviewers nevertheless overuse closed-ended questions, which lead to short unelaborated responses, privilege the limited perspective of the interviewer, maximize the potential for linguistic difficulties, increase children’s tendency to guess, and risk response biases. Interviewers can avoid closed-ended questions through narrative practice, in which interviewers ask children to narrate a recent innocuous event before introducing the abuse topic; cued invitations, in which interviewers repeat details reported by children and ask for elaboration; open-ended wh- questions; and interview instructions, including asking children to promise to tell the truth. A remaining challenge is how to elicit disclosures from reluctant children. Better understanding of the dynamics of abuse disclosure and optimal interviewing strategies can assist the legal system in assessing the veracity of children’s reports.
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    • "A first hint in this direction comes from descriptions on the role of the executive functions of working memory updating and shifting in lying. Several authors imply that in order to produce a deceptive response, liars would need to keep the truth active in working memory, and be able to shift between the mental sets associated with these responses (Christ et al., 2009; Evans & Lee, 2013; Visu-Petra, Varga, Miclea, & Visu-Petra, 2013). However, why exactly the truth would be kept active and be part of a shifting process during the construction of lies was left unspecified. "
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive models of deception focus on the conflict-inducing nature of the truth activation during lying. Here we tested the counterintuitive hypothesis that the truth can also serve a functional role in the act of lying. More specifically, we examined whether the construction of a lie can involve a two-step process, where the first step entails activating the truth, based upon which a lie response can be formulated in a second step. To investigate this hypothesis, we tried to capture the covert truth activation in a reaction-time based deception paradigm. Together with each question, we presented either the truth or lie response as distractors. If lying depends on the covert activation of the truth, deceptive responses would thus be facilitated by truth distractors relative to lie distractors. Our results indeed revealed such a "covert congruency" effect, both in errors and reaction times (Experiment 1). Moreover, stimulating participants to use the distractor information by increasing the proportion of truth distractor trials enlarged the "covert congruency" effects, and as such confirmed that the effects operate at a covert response level (Experiment 2). Our findings lend support to the idea that lying relies on a first step of truth telling, and call for a shift in theoretical thinking that highlights both the functional and interfering properties of the truth activation in the lying process.
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