Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Say 'Thank You': Learning How To Lie

Date:
July 18, 2005
Source:
American Psychological Society
Summary:
Although honesty is generally taught as the best policy, around a child's birthday and holidays, the little white lie goes a long way. After all, kids are expected to grin and giggle at an itchy wool sweater as if it were the toy-of-the-moment they had been begging for. After a few years of awkward laughter and whispered scolding from parents, children tend to learn that a forced exclamation of joy earns them more smiles and hugs than the truth does.

Although honesty is generally taught as the best policy, around a child's birthday and holidays, the little white lie goes a long way. After all, kids are expected to grin and giggle at an itchy wool sweater as if it were the toy-of-the-moment they had been begging for. After a few years of awkward laughter and whispered scolding from parents, children tend to learn that a forced exclamation of joy earns them more smiles and hugs than the truth does.

Although this landmark on the way to knowing the difference between making grandma happy and making grandma really happy may seem of no use outside the living room, research published in the May 2005 issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the American Psychological Society, shows that there is a strong connection between a preschool child's reaction to an unwanted present and their ability to control other reactive behavior.

In a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and Texas A&M University, researchers Jessica E. Kieras, Renιe M. Tobin, William G. Graziano, and Mary K. Rothbart found that children's ability to put on a happy face when faced with a gift of an unattractive baby rattle was shown to predict their knowledge of the often-unspoken rules of acceptable behavior in society. The results speak to a child's potential to develop "socially appropriate expressive behavior" and a visibly even temperament, according to the authors.

Children ranging in age from 3 to 5 years were asked how much they liked each toy in a set, and following their assessment, received either their favorite or least favorite toy of the set. After each child received their toy, the tester gauged the child's response based on several observed reactions, including smiling, surprise, disappointment, disgust, and anger.

In order to relate these results to what society tells us about polite behavior, the children were then given a series of small tasks to perform, such as drawing a line at an unnaturally slow speed or holding down a pinball lever for extended lengths of time. The results of these simple tasks demonstrated the children's level of ability to overcome their reactive instincts and fit their actions to suit the needs of their situation - a skill learned throughout childhood and of limitless importance in the adult world.

The results were not altogether surprising. "Children who performed well on behavioral measures of effortful control displayed similar amounts of positive affect after receiving desirable and undesirable gifts, whereas children scoring low on effortful control showed more positive affect after receiving the desirable gift than after receiving the undesirable gift," the authors wrote. The children who were able to react similarly to the toy they wanted and the toy they didn't want were more able to comply with the regulations of the performance tests. So parents, keep nudging your kids to smile and say thank you; it may help them get that date, job, or house a few years down the line.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Psychological Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Psychological Society. "Say 'Thank You': Learning How To Lie." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 July 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050718012733.htm>.
American Psychological Society. (2005, July 18). Say 'Thank You': Learning How To Lie. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050718012733.htm
American Psychological Society. "Say 'Thank You': Learning How To Lie." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050718012733.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) — Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins