Episode 17: Why children lie with Katherine Warnell and Jennifer Clegg
June 7, 2021
Katherine Warnell and Jennifer Clegg, assistant professors in the Department of Psychology at Texas State University, join the Big Ideas TXST podcast to discuss their ongoing research into how children learn to lie.
Lying is a complex behavior that requires sophisticated social cognition. The liar—in this case, children—have to think about how others are perceiving them, what they know, and whether the lie is successful or not. In their studies, Warnell and Clegg examine how children between 4- and 10 years old learn about different types of lies: Anti-social lying, as when a child tries to deny guilt after doing something wrong, and prosocial lying, or polite lies, which are often used to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Anti-social lies appear early in development, whereas prosocial lies are more difficult for younger children to grasp. On top of that, there are differences in lying across cultures, which adds further complications to the research.