The complexities of children's antisocial lie telling: a cross-sectional and longitudinal investigation
thesisposted on 2022-03-29, 03:29 authored by Talia Carl
Despite being discouraged, children frequently tell lies to conceal their transgressions. Consequently, researchers have argued for the need to understand the complexities of children's lying. To advance this understanding, this thesis presents four laboratory-based studies, derived from one large-scale longitudinal study. The studies examine the cross-sectional (N = 443) and longitudinal (N = 298) influence of personal and environmental factors on lie telling across a broad age range of children (4- to 15-years) in both of the frequently used temptation resistance paradigm (TRP) tasks (guessing game, school-achievement task). Study one unconfounded age and task-type, finding support for the robust age-related decrease in lie telling after 8 years reported in previous research and demonstrating that the decrement in lie telling cannot be attributed to task-type. It also provided support for the situation-specificity viewpoint, showing that antisocial lie telling varies across tempting contexts. The results from studies two, three and four, further show that children's antisocial lying is differentially motivated depending on the tempting context. Study two showed that weaker internal moral standards led to more lie telling in the school achievement task concurrently and one year later. Study three showed that, depending on the time interval, harsh punishment was associated with more lie telling in the short-term, while lower levels of parental warmth led to more lie telling in the long-term. Finally, study 4 concurrently tested whether lie telling was the cause or effect of conduct problems using a cross-lagged panel design. Results indicated that lie telling is a problem behavior at the outset, rather than developmentally normative, as it follows engagement in conduct problems. Collectively, these studies show that personal and environmental factors play a complementary role in children's lying. They also provide the first causal longitudinal evidence of the relationships among personal and environmental factors related to children's lie telling.