The roles of liar intention, lie content, and theory of mind in children's evaluation of lies

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19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study found that 7-, 9-, and 11-year-old children and young adults identified prosocial lies as lies less frequently and evaluated them less negatively than selfish lies (liar intention effect); lies about opinions were identified as lies less frequently and evaluated less negatively than those about reality (lie content effect). The lie content effect was more pronounced in the prosocial lies than in the selfish lies for both identification and evaluation. Overall, the older participants considered liar intention more than the younger participants in lie evaluation. For the child participants, secondorder belief understanding correlated marginally with sensitivity to liar intention in the opinion lies, but not with content sensitivity. Finally, lie identification correlated with evaluation in the prosocial–opinion lies for all of the children. The independent effects of intention and content could potentially explain children’s development in "white lie" understanding demonstrated in the literature. Although the content effect appears to stem from a more general concern for whether communication is about objective reality, the intention effect may involve theory of mind. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume132
Early online date07 Jan 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

Citation

Cheung, H., Siu, T.-S. C., & Chen, L. (2015). The roles of liar intention, lie content, and theory of mind in children's evaluation of lies. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 132, 1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2014.12.002

Keywords

  • Lie evaluation
  • Theory of mind
  • False belief
  • White lie
  • Lie motivation
  • Lie content

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