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Parents can only tell if child is lying half the time: study

How good are you at spotting when your offspring are telling fibs? A lot of adults are pretty rubbish, it seems.

It’s major part of parenting – getting to the bottom of things.
Mums and dads needs to have their lie radar switched on often when talking to their kids. This is how we find out:
  • Who drew on the wall in a Sharpie?
  • Can anyone tell me what happened to that block of chocolate?
  • When did you last have a shower?
  • Are the parents going to be at that 16th birthday park party?
So it’s disturbing to hear that we are only able to spot our kids telling skites 54 per cent of the time, according to new research.
The University of California, Irvine, team has undertaken a major new study into children and lying which builds on a growing body of research in children and their idea of the truth.
Their experiments included 45 experiments involving 8000 adult “judges” and about 2000 children aged 15 years and under. And it was surprising how often the wool was pulled over the "judges'" eyes.
Ye of little faith
Reading between the lines of the study results, it seems that the main reason that adults got it wrong so often is because they ALWAYS thought the children were lying.
“Adults view behaviours such as gaze aversion, fidgeting, nervousness, incoherent responses and facial expressions as being indicative of someone lying,” they wrote in the journal Law and Human Behaviour, according to The Times.
“These often mean different things, particularly in young children.”
For example, authors said, gaze aversion in children can occur when tasks are particularly difficult. “In other words, the cues on which adults rely to evaluate honesty often are not valid.”
Want to try this experiment at home?
The researchers have revealed their methods on determining if adults can distinguish between kiddie truth and lies. Here is one experiment, considered a classic in the whole "kids and lies" study field, and it's based on what's called "temptation resistance".
A young child is left alone in a room with an exciting toy put behind them, and told not to turn around and look at it.
Observers then leave the room, and watch the child.
On returning, the child is asked if they have looked.
Sometimes a further question is added, in which they are asked to 'guess' the name of the toy.
Many subjects who did look at the toy then construct a more elaborate lie to cover their tracks.
Lying and kids is a popular study subject
Another study has just come out showing how children interpret “good” and “bad” lies – that is, ones that hurt versus ones that protect.
Researchers at McGill University showed nearly 100 children aged six to 12 a series of short videos in which puppets either told the truth or lied.
Sometimes their lies caused harm — like one character blaming another for their own misdeeds. In other cases, lies were used to protect others.
The children had to choose whether they would punish or reward the puppet's behaviour.
In general, the kids kept with the "lies are bad, truth is good" mantra, but there were two categories that resulted in some conflict – false confessions and dobbing. In these incidents the older kids had what researchers described as “more nuanced” views and were less black and white. They were able to differentiate between lies that protected and ones that harmed as well.

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