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Social and Cognitive Correlates of Children’s Lying Behavior

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Abstract:

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.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2008.01164.x

Publication date: July 1, 2008

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