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It’s no secret that people lie — they lie to their boss, to their family, to their friends, to the taxman, etc. And there probably isn’t one parent on this planet who hasn’t lied to their child. Well, according to the psychology department at the University of California, San Diego, the more you lie to your kids, the more likely your little ones will be a cheater and a fibber.
Researchers gathered 186 children between the ages of three to seven and played the same game with all of them — identify the popular fictional character by their voice. But before the game began, about half of the children were told there was lots of candy in the next room. Shortly after, the adult confessed it wasn’t true, that it was simply a way to convince the child to play the game.
The character voices played during the game were meant to be easy guesses — Elmo, Cookie Monster and Winnie the Pooh. One voice, Beethoven’s Fur Elise, was meant to be difficult. During this classical music example, the researcher “had” to leave the room for about 90 seconds and instructed each child not to peek at the mystery toy. When the adult returned, they asked the child if he/she gave in to temptation and cheated.
Naturally, cameras will rolling the entire time, unbeknownst to the young study volunteers.
Their findings: The older kids, those between five and seven, who had been lied to about the big bowl of candy were more likely to cheat — and then lie about cheating — compared to the children who weren’t told anything about the sweets in the other room. Granted, while 60 percent of the grammar school-aged kids who weren’t offered candy did take a peek (and about 60 percent of them lied about their behavior), nearly 80 percent of the we-have-candy-no-we-don’t kids sneaked a look and close to 90 percent of them lied about it.
The psychology experts believe the children may have simply followed in the footsteps of the lying adult. “Perhaps the children did not feel the need to uphold their commitment to tell the truth to someone who they perceived as a liar," they wrote in their study, as reported by Science Daily.
As for the youngest volunteers — they cheated and lied about the same. And researchers think it’s because they haven’t developed this “sophisticated” mindset..yet.
“All sorts of grown-ups may have to re-examine what they say to kids,” stated Leslie Carver, professor and co-study author. “Even a 'little white lie' might have consequences."
Uumm, I’m not too sure about that one. After all, adults need to be told white lies all the time.