Research has proven why young children love to lie 6 years ago

Research has proven why young children love to lie

Ever wondered why young children are so quick to tell a lie?

According to Professor of psychology Gail Heyman, it's because they think they can gain something through deception.

Professor Heyman conducted a study which saw children all around the age of three play a game.

The game involved the child hiding a treat under a cup while the experimenter looked away. The child was then asked which cup the treat was under.

If they told the truth, the experimenter won the treat. But if the child lied, they were rewarded.

The study showed that once a child figured out that lying meant something positive was going to happen to them, they were like to continue to deceive for their own benefit.

The study took place over 10 days, with the participants playing 10 rounds of the game each day.


Some of the children figured out the benefits of lying on the first day, while others went the whole study repeatedly losing games.

Despite these findings, Professor Heyman points out that this realisation of what lying can mean is only the first step in a child's mental growth.

She says:

"After this discovery, children typically learn when to deceive, but in doing so they must sort through a confusing array of messages about the morality of deception.

They usually also learn more about how to deceive. Young children often inadvertently give away the truth when they try to dupe others, and they must learn to control their words, facial expressions and body language to be convincing."

So although children will not always think that their lying will benefit them, they will at the same time continue to develop more nuanced methods of deception as they grow.

Which is, of course, good news for all of us who just want to get the truth out of our kids every once in a while.