Monday, March 17, 2008

Learning to Lie

New York Magazine recently ran a fascinating article on how we learn to lie. They observe how it is that kids grow up to learn to lie.

And their conclusion is simple. Kids learn it from their parents. Sobering.

Joe Carter summarizes,

Bronson's article contains a number of revealing tidbits, including:
1. Lying is related to intelligence. The smarter the kid, the better they are at lying.
2. On average, a 4-year-old will lie once every two hours, while a 6-year-old will lie about once every hour and a half.
3. Scholars have found that kids who live in threat of consistent punishment don’t lie less. Instead, they become better liars, at an earlier age—learning to get caught less often.
4. Children lie because they see their parents lie, and learn to imitate them. Adults inadvertently teach children that honesty only creates conflict, and dishonesty is an easy way to avoid conflict.
5. Permissive parents don’t actually learn more about their children’s lives.
6. Most rules-heavy parents don’t actually enforce them since its too much work.
7. Parents view arguing with their teenager as destructive to their relationship, while teens see it as strengthening their bond.


KG said...

I would disagree with their conclusions.

I believe that children lie, because they are liers. I believe that the Bible teaches that we sin because we are sinners, by nature.

I have three children, and all of them began to lie at an early age. Basically, when they began to talk.

I am not trying to deny that the modeling that we do as parents doesn't effect them for better or for worse. In fact, I believe strongly that to teach your lying children not to lie, a parent must model truthfulness on all occasions.

I did not have to teach my children to lie.
I did not have to teach them to be selfish.
I did not have to teach them to hit when they are angry.
All of these things, they did quite naturally because they were born into sin just as I was.

That is why we all need Jesus.

Chairman said...

So the worst thing as a parent is to find that you have a kid who's bad a lying. Not only are them of poor moral fiber, they're not particularly bright, either.

One fun point that they don't bring up is with the self-control measure that they do (they call it temptation-resistance). Other research suggests that it is also a function of intelligence. Smart kids exhibit self-control (are able to delay gratification, for example), while the dumber kids need to get whatever they want immediately. Piece that together into the intelligence hierarchy, and it's more relieving than the oversimplified point that Joe Carter makes of liars being smarter.

Personally, I prefer the sociopath approach, where there's no point in lying because you simply don't care about what anyone else thinks and are unable to feel empathy. Perhaps this is why I feel oddly compelled to declare myself the victor in fantasy sports with over a month left to go, while not even in first place at the time.

Westy said...

I believe that children lie, because they are liers.
I agree. But I do not doubt in the least that my children may also learn further about how to lie from me. Because despite trying not to, I will probably prove to be a good bad example.