I guess I better stop lying to my child. According to a new study, children from households with parents who are dirty liars turn into dirty liars, too. Who am I kidding, I’m not going to stop lying. It’s pretty much all I got.
“As far as we know,” said Carver, associate professor of psychology and human development in the UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences. “This is the first experiment confirming what we might have suspected: Lying by an adult affects a child’s honesty.”
186 children ages three to seven were tested in a temptation resistance game. About half of them were promised candy to get them to go into an adjoining room. As soon as they got there it was quickly revealed it was just a trick to get the kids to play the game.
The kids were asked to identify a group of covered stuffed animals by the sounds that they made. Several were easy to identify; Tickle Me Elmo has a easily identifiable voice as does Cookie Monster. But one of the toys played Fur Elise, which clearly the kids could not attribute to a character.
The adult left the room, leaving the kids unattended with the toy. Of the kids left with the toys, the ones who had been lied to initially about the candy were both more likely to peek at the toy whose voice they did not recognize and more likely to lie about it:
About 60 percent of the school-aged children who had not been lied to by the experimenter peeked at the tricky temptation toy – and about 60 percent of the peekers lied about it later. Among those that had been lied to, those figures rose to nearly 80 percent peeking and nearly 90 percent of the peekers lying.
The researchers believe the kids were either modeling the bad behavior of the adults or making assumptions about the importance of honesty to those adults. “Perhaps,” they write, “the children did not feel the need to uphold their commitment to tell the truth to someone who they perceived as a liar.” Ouch.
I get it; model good behavior. But, no. I have a toddler. I sit on a throne of lies.
The TV remote is broken honey!
The park is closed!
This is called “meat cake.” (Sounds so much better than ‘meat loaf’)
The faucet broke so we’ll take a bath in the morning.
We’re totally out of batteries!
Can’t stop, won’t stop. I’m lying until my kid figures me out.