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Development of tactical deception from 4 to 8 years of age


Rachelle M. Smith, One College Circle, Bangor, ME 04401, USA (e-mail: ).


One hundred eighteen children, divided into three age groups (4-, 6-, and 8-year-olds) participated in a competitive game designed to explore advances in children's deceptive abilities. Success in the game required children to inhibit useful information or provide misinformation in their communication with an adult opponent. Age trends were evident for all dependent variables, including success at the task, strategic behaviours, and interview data. Four-year-olds were non-strategic and rarely successful, 6-year-olds were increasingly strategic and successful, and 8-year-olds were significantly more subtle in their strategies, more successful at the task, and more likely to verbalize an understanding of their opponent's expectations than younger age groups.