Even ‘White Lies’ From Parents Encourage Lying by Kids

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by HealthDay.

Kids are more likely to lie to their parents if their parents have been lying to them — even with positive “white” lies, a new study shows.

But researchers found a difference between encouraging white lies and “instrumental” lies that involve false threats or promises.

Any sort of instrumental lie — “Behave or I’ll call the police” or “Finish your homework and we’ll go to Disneyland” — increased the likelihood that a kid would lie to their parents.

But white lies only affected kids if they knew that their parents weren’t telling the truth, researchers found.

“Our study shows that while both instrumental and white lies told by parents could result in children lying to their parents, the effect of white lies was seen only in children who know they have been lied to,” said lead researcher Pei Pei Setoh, an associate professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

“This suggests that the way children develop lying behaviors could depend on the way they understand and process different types of lies told to them,” she added in a university news release.

The new study involved 564 parent-child pairs in Singapore, with kids that were ages 11 and 12. Researchers picked this age because this is the time when children’s concepts of lying become more sophisticated.

The data suggest that the more children were told instrumental lies, the more likely they were to lie to their parents — even if they didn’t know what they were told was a lie.

Since these instrumental lies can get a child to behave, kids might be gaining an unintended lesson from them, researchers speculated. They could be learning that such lies are effective in achieving a goal, making them more likely to lie.

But these instrumental lies also might cause negative feelings because they are coercive in nature, straining the parent-child relationship and making the kid more likely to lie out of resentment, researchers added.

However, white lies only promoted more lying if children knew their parent was being disingenuous.

The new study appears in the April issue of the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

Source: HealthDay

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on Crosswalk.com and Religiontoday.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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