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J Exp Child Psychol. 2015 Feb;130:209-17. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2014.09.011. Epub 2014 Oct 24.

The effects of punishment and appeals for honesty on children's truth-telling behavior.

Author information

1
Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H3A 1Y2, Canada. Electronic address: victoria.talwar@mcgill.ca.
2
Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H3A 1Y2, Canada.

Abstract

This study examined the effectiveness of two types of verbal appeals (external and internal motivators) and expected punishment in 372 children's (4- to 8-year-olds) truth-telling behavior about a transgression. External appeals to tell the truth emphasized social approval by stating that the experimenter would be happy if the children told the truth. Internal appeals to tell the truth emphasized internal standards of behavior by stating that the children would be happy with themselves if they told the truth. Results indicate that with age children are more likely to lie and maintain their lie during follow-up questioning. Overall, children in the External Appeal conditions told the truth significantly more compared with children in the No Appeal conditions. Children who heard internal appeals with no expected punishment were significantly less likely to lie compared with children who heard internal appeals when there was expected punishment. The results have important implications regarding the impact of socialization on children's honesty and promoting children's veracity in applied situations where children's honesty is critical.

KEYWORDS:

Appeals to tell the truth; Deception; Expected punishment; Honesty; Lie-telling; Socialization; Truth promotion

PMID:
25447716
DOI:
10.1016/j.jecp.2014.09.011
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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