This study examined relations between children’s false statements and response latency, executive functioning, and truth–lie understanding in order to understand what underlies children’s emerging ability to make false statements. A total of 158 (2- to 5-year-old) children earned prizes for claiming that they were looking at birds even when presented with images of fish. Children were asked recall (“What do you have?”), recognition (“Do you have a bird/fish?”), and outcome (“Did you win/lose?”) questions. Response latencies were greater when children were presented with fish pictures than bird pictures, particularly when they were asked recall questions, and were greater for false statements than for true statements, again when children were asked recall questions. Older but not younger children exhibited longer latencies when making false responses to outcome questions, which suggests that younger children were providing impulsive desire-based responses to the outcome questions. Executive functioning, as measured by the Stroop task, was not related to false statements. Children who were better at labeling statements as the truth or not the truth were more proficient at making false statements. The results support the proposition that the cognitive effort required for making false statements depends on the types of questions asked.
Williams, Shanna; Ahern, Elizabeth; and Lyon, Thomas D.
"The Relation Between Young Children’s False Statements and Response Latency, Executive Functioning, and Truth–Lie Understanding,"
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Vol. 65:
1, Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/vol65/iss1/4