How do children learn to lie?

  • 09/11/2015
Lies (3News)
Lies (3News)

Lying is a complex web of biological actions.

To start with, a neurological process begins in the brain with the formation of the lie. Blood is sent to the prefrontal cortex (PFC), a part of the brain located just above the eye sockets.

The PFC is thought to be associated with planning complex thought processes and making decisions based on new information.

This part of the brain determines what is "good" and "bad" in regards to decision-making.

This is where lies come together.

The biological responses to a lie are involuntary.

An increase in heart rate and breathing rate occurs while lying, this is a "fight or flight" response which increases the supply of oxygen to the brain and muscles, preparing to escape trouble or gear up for combat.

Your pupils dilate in order to take in more light and see the world around you in more detail.

Toddlers like to play pretend and as this ability to emerges, so does the ability to deliberately lie.

But toddlers don't take into consideration the mental states of the listener when they tell these "white lies", which makes it easy for adults to tell they're lying.

Things get more difficult as children reach the 4th year of life. At this stage, they do take into consideration what the other person knows and believes, and they fully appreciate that others can hold false beliefs.

Parents still have a bit of an advantage, though, because children in this age range tend to lose track of what they've said and what has to be true if the story they want you to believe is true.

At around 7-8 years of age, parents find themselves up against a worthy adversary, as children in this age range are able to conceal their lies by maintaining consistency between their initial lie and their follow-up statements.

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