Learning Different Perspectives Makes Children Better Liars

Children's discoveries about belief also have consequences for other aspects of their relations to people. To deceive peopie, or to recognize that they are deceiving you, you need to be able to understand the differences between what they believe and what you believe. Doing that depends on understanding the way beliefs work. It depends on knowing what you have to do to make someone believe something that isn't actually true. Two- and three-year-olds are such terrible liars. they hardly qualify as liars at all. A three-year-old will stand on the other side of the street and yell back to you that he didn't cross it by himself. They are terrible liars just because they don't seem to understand what it takes to make someone have a false belief. We can show systematically that "real" lies only begin to appear at about four, at the same time that children start to understand "false-belief" problems like the deceptive candy box. Similarly, children only begin to understand that they can be deceived at about that age.

While learning to lie may not, at first, seem like a terrifically desirable skill, some kinds of deception are essential to civilized life. Children don't even seem to understand the necessary lies we call politeness until about four or five years old. They are baffled by a scenario in which someone pretends pleasure at an unwelcome birthday gift or hides the pain of a skinned knee under a show of stoicism. The idea that you could feel one emotion and yet express another seems contradictory to them. This may be why, in their everyday life. young children also have such a hard time masking their own emotions, another reason that life with a three-year-old can be like a twelve-hour-a-day performance of Tosca.


Before they understand that other people have different perspectives, children make terrible liars.

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 The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Gopnik , Meltzoff , Kuhl (2001-01-01), The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind, Harper Paperbacks, Retrieved on 2011-07-06
Folksonomies: education parenting pregnancy babies children infancy