Scientists have some good news for parents who are dealing with children who lie. Children who are good liars have good memories.
When a child lies, most parents do their best to teach him that lying is not proper conduct. This can be a stressful experience for the parents, and it never actually leads to significant results, because as we all know, everybody lies. According to a recent study however, there is a silver lining out there for the parents in this situation.
While the researchers have not discovered some ingenious method of preventing children for lying, nor some sort of mass-use truth syrup, they have found out that children who are good liars have a particularly good memory. Despite the fact that society frowns upon lying, it is actually quite complicated to be good at it, because it takes effort and quite a bit of intelligence.
The study comes from the University of Sheffield and it has relayed that those children who are particularly skilled at covering up their lies and sticking to their story display very good verbal working memory.
“(Parents) can at least be pleased to discover that when their children are lying well, it means their children are becoming better at thinking and have good memory skills,” said the leader of the study, Dr. Elena Hoicka, of the Department of Psychology at the University of Sheffield.
The Sheffield University study was a very interactive one and it was conducted on seven children who were seven years old. The experiment was carried out as a trivia game that the children were asked to be part of. The trick was that Dr. Hoicka and her team told the children that they are strictly forbidden to look at the back of the question cards, because they hold the answers.
Then, she tested them by leaving the room, and leaving the children alone with the answers. There was a hidden camera in the room that filmed the children the entire time, so that they can later be tested.
The researchers wanted to assess their lying abilities and so the devised two special questions meant to catch them in the lie. The children who succeeded to answer both of these questions without revealing themselves as liars were considered to be good liars, while those who only managed to escape one of the two or none were considered to be bad liars.
In the next phase of the experiment, the researchers assessed the children’s verbal working memory, which refers to the amount of words that a person is able to remember in a single instance. Then their visuospatial working memory was assessed. This type of memory reffers to the number of images that a person is able to memorize in one instance.
Then, the researchers compared the results of the children who were deemed good liars with those of the children who were deemed bad liars.
Their findings reveal that while there was no significant difference between the good liars’ and the bad liars’ visuospatial working memory skills, there was a difference between their verbal working memory skills. These skills were obviously sharper in the children who were good liars.
Their conclusions revealed that while particularly developed image memorizing skills do not contribute to good lying, the ability to remember words does. Therefore, children who are good liars have particularly good verbal working memory.
Dr. Hoicka has expressed her desire to extend this study in order to get a better understanding on how children first learn to tell lies, because the outcome has already been documented. It appears that adults lie in as much as a fifth of their entire social interactions and that they can keep up the lying for approximately 10 minutes.
Whether or not this discovery will be able to bring solace to the parents of the skilled little liars, it is an important step towards understanding the abilities that children reveal through their behavior, even that for which they usually get punished.
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