Little Liars: Development of Verbal Deception in Children

Authors


  • Kang Lee, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study, University of Toronto.
  • The preparation of this paper is supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the NIH R01HD047290.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Kang Lee, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study, University of Toronto, 45 Walmer Road, Toronto, ON M5R 2X2, Canada; e-mail: kang.lee@utoronto.ca.

Abstract

Lying is common among adults and a more complex issue in children. In this article, I review two decades of empirical evidence about lying in children from the perspective of speech act theory. Children begin to tell lies in the preschool years for anti- and prosocial purposes, and their tendency to lie changes as a function of age and the type of lies being told. In addition, children's ability to tell convincing lies improves with age. In the article, I highlight the central roles that children's understanding of mental states and social conventions play in the development of lying. I also identify areas for research to be done to develop a more comprehensive picture of the typical and atypical developmental courses of verbal deception in children.

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