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Adult Detection of Children's Selfish and Polite Lies: Experience Matters


Victoria Talwar, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, McGill University, 3700 McTavish, Montréal, QC, H3A 1Y2. E-mail:


Five groups of participants (N = 150) with differing amounts of experience working with children were assessed on their ability to detect children's lying or truth telling. Children's lies were told for antisocial reasons (i.e., self-serving lies) and for prosocial reasons (i.e., to benefit others). Overall, adults were more accurate at identifying children's dishonest statements than their true statements, and children's antisocial lies were detected more accurately than were their prosocial lies. While adults without experience were poor at detecting child lie tellers and truth tellers, adults with extensive child experience were better at distinguishing children's lies and truths.

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