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Parental Lies

November 3, 2009

New research suggests that parents lie to their children much more often than previously thought.


Parental deceits…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Everyone tells a white lie to their children once in a while, right? Well, according to new research, parental lies may be much more prevalent than you might think. University of California, San Diego psychologist Gail Heyman says many parents make up elaborate falsehoods for convenience. For example, in order to get her son to stop crying when she goes out, a mother tells her three-year-old son that she has to save a friend from a witch.

GAIL HEYMAN (University of California, San Diego):
A lot of the parents that most strongly endorsed the view that lying is absolutely never acceptable also were some of the same parents that made up some of these creative lies to get their children to behave appropriately.

She says while these lies may be effective at the time, when they are discovered, they may compromise the child’s subsequent trust in the parent’s word. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.