A new study published in the journal Developmental Science suggests that children who often lie and cheat were themselves lied to.
Researchers at University of California, San Diego tested around 186 children between ages 3 to 7 by making them undergo a temptation-resistance experiment in which half of the children were lied to by the experimenter, who later confessed to the lie, which the remaining half were not lied to. The children were then asked to identify character toys by listening to their sounds, with one such sound not being connected to any commercially available toy.
When that sound was played, the experimenter went outside the room to take a telephone call and the children were explicitly asked not to peek at the hidden toy.
The researchers found that around 60 percent of those who had not been lied to peeked at the toy with 60 percent of them lying about it afterwards, which this figure rose to 80 percent of those who had been lied, of which 90 percent lied about not having peeked at the toy. "As far as we know, this is the first experiment confirming what we might have suspected: Lying by an adult affects a child's honesty", lead researcher Leslie Carver said.