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 August 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 August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) — Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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