• deception;
  • child development;
  • parenting

Although parents frequently instruct children not to lie, children often observe lie-telling within the family environment. To date, no empirical research has examined children's spontaneous lie-telling to different lie-recipients. The current study examined children's spontaneous deceptive behaviour to parents and unfamiliar adults. In Experiment 1 (N = 98), children's (ages 6–9) antisocial lies to a parent or an unfamiliar adult were examined using a modified Temptation Resistance Paradigm. In Experiment 2, (N = 99) children's (ages 6–9) prosocial lies to a parent versus an unfamiliar adult were examined using the Disappointing Gift Paradigm. Results indicate that, across different types of lies, children are more likely to lie to an unfamiliar adult than to a parent. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.