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What comes out of the mouths of babes isn’t always the unvarnished truth.
Lee’s paper, published in the January edition of the American Psychological Association journal Developmental Psychology, pushes the onset of lying back some 18 months from the age previous research has suggested it would begin.
“Let’s say the first was a car and it made an engine sound and the child said ‘oh, it’s a car’,” he says.
The second might be a toy dog, which barked and was also easy to guess.
The researchers would then leave the room, telling the children they could not turn to peek — which the majority of them were caught on hidden cameras doing within seconds.
And upon their return, Lee’s team asked the kids if they’d looked while they’d been left alone.
What his team found as well was that those puny prevaricators were also more cognitively advanced than their truthful peers.
They also had a more acute “theory of mind”, which allows humans to reasonably guess what other people are thinking.
“So that requires me to read your mind.”
“They’re not going turn into (geniuses),” he says.
Lee’s past research has helped to push the onset of lying back from school aged children to three year olds.
Lee’s latest study may even indicate that children start equivocating at pre-verbal ages.
“So far I don’t have a scientific method (to test this) yet,” he says.
“But I suspect I can still find some (non-verbal) kids were capable of telling lies with actions or with other means of communications.”
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