Deception by young children following noncompliance.

Developmental psychology

PubMedID: 10082026

Polak A, Harris PL. Deception by young children following noncompliance. Dev Psychol. 1999;35(2):561-8.
A paradigm devised by M. Lewis, C. Stanger, and M. W. Sullivan (1989) was adapted to study deception and false-belief understanding. In Study 1, 3- and 5-year-olds were asked not to touch a toy in the experimenter's absence. Just over half of the children touched the toy, and of those children, the majority denied having done so. Of control children who were given permission to touch the toy, all touched it and admitted having done so. In Study 2, 3- and 5-year-olds were asked not to look in a box to identify its contents. Almost all children looked, most denied having looked, and a minority consistently feigned ignorance of the contents. False-belief understanding was linked to denial of looking but not to feigning ignorance. Of control children who were given permission to look, all acknowledged looking, and they almost always revealed their knowledge of the contents. The studies confirm that preschoolers deceive in the context of a minor misdemeanor but are less effective at feigning ignorance.