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What are the relative influences of nature and nurture on deception?
- 1) Theory of mind - is the ability to attribute mental states — beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc. to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires and intentions that are different from one's own.
- 2) The reality hypothesis - is early cognition that is characterized by realistic judgment. Children invest in the perception of reality rather than the misrepresentation of it.
- 3) Machiavellianism - The employment of cunning and deception in statecraft or in general conduct.
- 4) Mach IV scale and Mach V scale - Machiavellian Personality Tests.
- 5) The modeling-identification hypothesis - Is children in trying to be like their parents develop the principles and associated skills which their parents used successfully to manipulate others, including themselves.
- 6) Executive functioning - A set of cognitive abilities that control and regulate other abilities and behaviours. Executive functions are necessary for goal-directed behaviour. They include the ability to initiate and stop actions, to monitor and change behaviour as needed, and to plan future behaviour when faced with novel tasks and situations.
- 7) Simian - relating to, characteristic of, or resembling an ape or a monkey
- 8) Ethology - the scientific study of animal behavior, especially as it occurs in a natural environment
- 9) Neuroimaging - Includes the use of various techniques to either directly or indirectly image the structure, function/pharmacology of the brain.
- 10) Prefrontal cortex - The anterior part of the frontal lobes of the brain that carries out executive functions.
- 11) Anterior Cingulate Cortex - Is the frontal part of the cingulate cortex that is responsible for error detection.
- 12) Milieu - an environment or setting.
To lie, by definition is to deceive but not all deception involves lying. Deception can also involve secrets, non verbal deceit or self deception (Ford, 1999). It seems that everyone engages in deception. Politicians deceive voters, advertisers deceive consumers, doctors deceive patients and children deceive parents but whatever the case is, it is evident that everyone deceives. Where does this deception come from? Studies and experiments on deception are done with children to elucidate universals, since human development begins with childhood. Animals have been used in many studies and experiments on deception by reason of evolutionary theory. Many have offered preliminary theories about the origins of deception in humans but the debate continues. Is deception in born or is it something that is conditioned by the environment? Rosseau said “Everything is good when it leaves the hands of the creator, but degenerates in the hands of man”. Evidently this is a nativism and empiricism issue. To study the genesis of deception as an innate psychological phenomenon or a developed psychological phenomenon, a variety of approaches can be taken. Sociobiologists, psychologists, philosophers and the like have all studied deception. Through research on social psychology, cognitive processes, evolution and personality, the relative influences of nature and nurture on deception can be studied.
Personality theories about Deception
- Personality theories about deception lend themselves to both the nativist side and the empiricist side of this debate.
The modeling-identification hypothesis: Children in trying to be like their parents, learn the principles and skills which their parents used successfully to manipulate others including themselves. In an empiricist sense the type of personalities parents have can actually affect the personalities of their children - not biologically but developmentally. In addition to that, children’s Machiavellian beliefs are very similar to the Machiavellian beliefs of their fathers. The leader of the house is then seen as having a large impact on the development of the child. The idea is that children imitate and model their parents as a tool to adapt to their environment. Children use their parents as a model to become larger parts of society. Children that model their parents Machiavellian behaviours and beliefs are more likely to manipulate others for their own benefit (Kraut & Price, 1976). This idea that children’s deceptive behaviours develop from experiences with their parents has been recently looked into by Richard Wiseman. Wiseman (2007) explains that deception is a commonplace behaviour and children are frequently subject to deception. The problem is that children learn to deceive through experiencing others deception. In some cases children do not learn Machiavellian behaviours from their parents only, but from other people that they are subject to.
Individual personality linked to deception: Personality can be described as consistent patterns of behaviour in an individual over a long period of time. Personality is an entire study all on its own when facing the battle between nature and nurture. However in the following examples personality is thought of as a psychological phenomenon that is innate. For example, individuals who have manipulative personalities are manipulative because it is in their nature to manipulate others. Be that as it may, manipulators are not the only ones who frequently lie by nature. Individuals who are high self monitors frequently lie because they are very concerned with self presentation. Sociable people (extroverts) are more likely to deceive than introverts. Extroverts will tell a lie to make themselves look better to others or so others will feel better about themselves and believe that the extrovert is altruistic even though they are not (Vrij & Mann, 2007). Individuals with personalities like histrionic, antisocial, narcissist or borderline are all inclined naturally to deceive. Deception conducted by individuals with the personalities listed above can occur because of difficulty with the temporal organization of memories, and difficulties in prefrontal lobe functioning which may increase impulsivity and decrease social judgement (Ford, 1999). In this explanatory discussion, deception within individuals has very low degrees of freedom because they do not have control over the deceptive personalities that they are born with.
Pathological Liar (Nature) and Compulsive Liar (Nurture)
- The concept of the pathological and compulsive liar is a very clean shaven example of the nativism and empiricism of deception. A pathological liar is usually defined as someone who lies continually to get their way and does so with little concern for others. Pathological lying is usually associated with a mental health disorder that is a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. On the other hand, for compulsive liars lying is a habit. Lying is their normal and responsive mechanism for answering questions. They tend to distort the truth in any minuscule or large scale situation. Compulsive liars feel normal when they lie and feel very awkward when they tell the truth. For compulsive liars, this habit develops from early childhood and is due to being placed in an environment where lying was necessary (Ford, 1999).
Deception and Cognition
For someone to engage in true deception they have to know 1) that other individuals have minds, 2) different individual minds can believe different things that are true and 3) an individual can make another individual’s mind believe something false is actually true (Wiseman, 2007). This indicates that a theory of mind is necessary in order to participate in deception. To some psychologists the theory of mind is something that is universal and innate. Studies on children as young as two years old have been conducted and results have shown that they do possess a theory of mind. Ritblatt (2000) stated that children younger than two years old do possess a theory of mind but it is dormant before the age of two. However, Reddy (2008) disputes this conventional view with empirical studies of more than 50 children and interviews with parents. She has identified seven categories of deception used by infants between six months and three-years-old. These include fake crying and fake laughing between the ages of six to eight months and more calculated deception in later months. In her interview with the Daily Telegraph (June 30, 2007), Dr. Reddy said, "Fake crying is one of the earliest forms of deception to emerge, and infants use it to get attention even though nothing is wrong. You can tell, as they will then pause while they wait to hear if their mother is responding, before crying again. It demonstrates they're clearly able to distinguish that what they are doing will have an effect.” To view the Daily Telegraph article [|click here]
The theory of mind is most definitely not the only explanation for deception as a natural psychological phenomenon. Deception can also be thought of as a product of cognitive processes. Without executive functioning deception would not exist. Gombos's (2006) observations on neuroimaging studies suggest that prefrontal (responsible for executive functions) and anterior cingulated cortices (responsible for error detection) are particularly engaged during certain forms of deception, therefore executive processes support deceit. In the case of cognition and deception, deception is often viewed as a natural psychological phenomenon.
Development and Deception
As humans, we lie about our feelings, we lie about what happened to us, we lie about what we want, and we lie about what we are going to do. In some sense then, deception and lying can occur in our every action, thought and feeling. Experimental research and studies has been conducted to show children as having a natural proclivity to tell lies that was “so spontaneous and universal that we can take it as an essential part of the child’s egocentric thought” (Piaget, 1997). This quotation promotes the idea that deception is naturally a part of children by fundamentally looking at stage models of development, cognitive development and moral development.
According to Angela Crossman Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, "Preschoolers with higher IQ scores are more likely to lie.” The correlation between IQ and deception is compared to the cognitive development of children. Young children with lower IQ lack the cognitive ability to lie or lie effectively.
As children pass through stages of moral development, their understandings and evaluations of deception become less dependent on their ascribed meaning systems, beliefs and values attained by parents, caregivers and society. The moral implications of lying is pressured by societal norms and manipulated by the constantly changing environment.
Deception, lying, falsehood, and masking of our inner selves exist as part of the social world in which we live. Because of this, the newborn child cannot help but be influenced by it. The child quickly comes to understand its existence, learns its rules, and becomes a very part of this process. Children, as well as adults, are immersed in interpersonal relationships and in relationships with the world, both of which are woven with deception. As the studies on deception gradually shifted from a reductionist’s perspective to an interpretive one, the main emphasis still remains of deception as an innate characteristic when referring to stage models of development. By looking at stage models of development which are considering universal innate step-wise predetermined stages, we assume that lying is also part of human nature – something that everyone does unavoidably.
Deception and Evolutionary Theory
- From a broad evolutionary perspective, deception is an ancient adaptive strategy. A widely accepted criterion for determining whether an organism possesses the mental capacity for deception is that it understands false beliefs.
“While research on non-human primates has revealed a number of behaviours that function to deceive others, it remains unclear whether such cases also represent instances of intentional deception” (Hare, Call, & Tomasello, 2006). For instance, subordinate primates refrain from giving food calls that might attract dominants to monopolize their food, hide themselves from whom they perceive to be competitors, and sometimes actively lead approaching dominants away from the location of hidden food (Hare, Call, & Tomasello, 2006). These acts of deception can be interpreted as survival tactics which are instinctual or learned within the social groups of the primates. The investigation of animal behaviours (the science of ethology and sociobiology) has been a valuable tool for understanding the role of instinct across different species. Such investigations can enable better comprehension of basic brain mechanisms that underlies human behaviour (Ford, 1999).
- Can non-human primates really understand what others are thinking to intentionally deceive?
Experiments conducted at the Leipzig Zoo in Germany observed how chimpanzees behaved when they perceived they were competing with a human for food. The results revealed that the chimpanzees knew what the human could or could not see by observing his behaviour, such as the direction of his gaze (Hare, Call, & Tomasello, 2006). From the first trial, the chimpanzees developed deceptive strategies by using a route hidden from the human’s view (behind his back) to reach the contested food. These experiments indicating the hiding behaviour of the chimpanzees provide strong evidence that they are capable of intentional deception. The chimpanzees would also ‘check back’ to make sure the human did not change his gaze. This ‘checking back’ is very often observed in humans as they attempt to deceive others.
What can be construed as premeditated deception is observed in hamadryas baboons. The field study of Kummer (1968), describes the surreptitious and deceptive behaviour of female hamadryas baboons, which behind the backs or out of sight of their harem leaders, groom and/or copulate with subordinate males in spite of the known repercussions. In their well defined one male unit, a hamadryas male does not share his females and punishment awaits the females if caught.
In a summary of the results of large amounts of records of ‘tactical deception’ contributed by field workers all over the world, Byrne (2007) reported that deception was common of natural primate behaviour. ‘The records of deception were not collected in any belief that deception was carried out intentionally, with malice aforethought or with an understanding of mechanism’ (Byrne, 2007, p.3). Cercopithecine monkeys and the common chimpanzee seemed to use deception more than average, but they have also been studied more than most primates. The general prevalence of deception in the simian primates was seen as a result of an ability to learn very quickly in social contexts - that is, to pay attention to other individuals and their demeanor, to acquire and use knowledge about rank and relatedness, and to learn tactics that pay off when the situation arises.
Byrne (2007), using a physiological reductionist approach, theorized that increased neocortex size (responsible for complex thought and planning) ‘really does allow primates the luxury of increased use of social manipulation by deception, and presumably by other subtle tactics’ (Byrne, 2007, p.3). He affirmed in his lecture that the field studies of animals revealing their cognitive capacities have allowed theoretical advancement in understanding the evolutionary origins of human cognition capacities.
Deception in Social Psychology and Behaviourism
For centuries, deceptive behaviour in individuals has been attributed to their personality traits and treated as an inherited characteristic. Many professionals previously studied and still study people as “natural-born prevaricators” (Krout, 1931). Historically speaking, with the rise of behaviourism and social psychology at the beginning of the 20th century, there was great emphasis placed on nurture, highlighting the learned and social causes of human behaviour, including deception. Deceptive behaviour in social interactions includes lying verbally and any other form of hiding our true emotion from others such as masking our facial expression, controlling the tone of voice and body movements. As Lewis M., in his book “Lying and Deception in Everyday Life” (1993) points out, the two main causes for deceptive behaviour are: sparing the feelings of others and avoiding punishment. The first form allows social relations to run smoothly, the second form is a learned behaviour when one realizes the possibility to hide his bad deeds and avoid the consequences.
- Lying to protect the feelings of others: Lewis gives a number of everyday life examples in which we engage in deception in a social situation to spare the feelings of others such as complimenting a terrible meal at a dinner party or pretending we liked a gift that we actually didn’t. The ability to deceive is improved as the child grows (Saarni, 1984). As was shown in Saarni's experiment where children were promised an attractive toy if they completed a task, they masked their facial expression of disappointment when they were presented with a less attractive toy. The researches concluded that one of the causes for this was to spare the feelings of the experimenter.
- Lying to avoid punishment: According to Lewis, this is the most common form of lying, at least in early childhood. Children would learn to lie to avoid punishment after only few incidents where they admitted the bad deed and got punished for it. In situations where the deception is obvious the parent would punish the child for telling the lie and as a result the child is now aware that he would be punished whether he lies or not so he would always try to lie in hope to avoid the punishment. The author states that he doesn’t believe there is necessarily a strong link between the deceptive behaviour in children and between their cognitive understanding of deception, between their actions and the understanding of their actions as pointed out by Piaget (1965) in terms of development of function and ability.
- Deception is a learned ability: Parents teach their children the moral importance of sparing the feelings of another as well as altruistic and empathic behaviour. As a result, children as well as adults always deal with the conflicting dilemma between being truthful and sparing the feelings of others. Children learn the rules of deception in regulating social relations from their significant others, mostly from their parents and older siblings, both from direct instructions and indirect observations and this is an important feature of early socialization. A corroborating source for the role of the home environment in shaping deceptive behaviour in children can be found in a study by May&Hartshorne (1928), which tried to determine the relative importance of heredity and home environment in deception, by comparing deceptive behaviour in pairs of siblings with pairs of non-siblings. The authors concluded that siblings do show resemblance in deceptive behaviour due to collusion (when one sibling affects another); parents attitude toward lying, and heredity, but couldn’t determine the relative importance of those factors.
- While Lewis pointed out only two main reasons for deceptive behaviour, the study “Serious Lies” by Depaulo, B.M., Ansfield, M.E., Kirkendol, S.E., Boden, J.M. (2004) broadens those reasons to seven and states that people lie to avoid punishment and to protect others but also to get what they want or to do what they feel they are entitled to do, to protect themselves from confrontation, to appear to be the type of person they wished they were, and to hurt others.
- According to social psychology, some additional causes for deception are imitating others and conforming to group norms, as well as regulating human relationships. Conformity was shown as causing deceptive behaviour in the study “Contagion and Differentiation in Unethical Behaviour” (2009) by Gino, F., Ayal, S., Ariely, D., where the authors tried to see if otherwise honest individuals would be affected by the deceptive behaviour of a group member who was a confederate of the experimenters. The results showed that in fact, the group would be affected by such behaviour to a greater extent if the confederate is an in-group member rather than out-group member.
- Behaviourism sees the causes for deceptive behaviour as originating in a learning process, strengthened by reinforcement and punishment. The difficulty with the behaviouristic approach in explaining lying is that it is a verbal behaviour. Behaviourism's stimulus-response and reinforcement-punishment concepts failed to explain in an adequate way the complex cognitive and linguistic processes associated with lying in humans (Krout, 1931). The study “Lying” in the Pigeon (1931) by Lanza, R.P., Starr, J., Skinner, B.F. was an attempt to use animals to study the simple connection between reinforcement and deceptive behaviour. While the results of this study cannot necessarily be applied to more complex creatures as humans, they are useful because it elucidates the relationship between deception and the environment.
Studies illuminating deception
- Talking Gorillas: To study deception in a successful evolutionary way individuals have used humans closest evolutionary ancestors. If humans have evolved from previous forms of animals then looking at previous forms of animals might give some enlightenment about humans. Francine Patterson, a developmental psychologist in 1970 was interested in elucidating the truth about deception through gorillas. She taught two lowland gorillas, Michael and Koko simplified American sign language. Patterson believed that through various instances she uncovered that gorillas engaged in deception. One example was when Koko broke a toy cat and then signed to indicate that the toy had been broken by one of Patterson’s assistants. When Patterson was sceptical about her answer, Koko changed her mind and signed that it was actually Patterson who broke it. When Patterson pressed the issue again, Koko finally confessed the whole situation. Patterson believed that her experiments and research on gorillas have shown that their apparent linguistic skills provide evidence of intentional deceit.
- Lying Children: Albert Harisson, a professor at the University of California experimented on children in a laboratory context. In one of his experiments conducted in 2006 the child is placed in the corner of the room and is asked to look at the wall. The child is told that a toy will be placed a few feet behind them. When the experimenter leaves he asks the child not to turn around and peak at the toy. The child is secretly filmed by hidden camerera. After a couple of minutes the experimenter goes back into the room and asks if the child has peaked or not. Results revealed that the two year olds that he experimented on showed that they were very unaware of what to do and often cried when left alone in the room. Almost all of the three year olds he experimented on looked and half of them lied about it to the experimenter. All of the five year olds tested, peaked and lied about peaking. Harrison claimed his results proved that deception is something that is developed the moment humans learn to speak.
Famous Figures Associated with Deception
- Anna Freud (1936-1966) developed the idea of ego defense mechanisms. In her study to about the nature of human behaviour and deception she described deception and more specifically self deception as an ego defense mechanism. The etiology of denial, delusional projection, manipulation and distortion is ego defense mechanism to cope with reality and to maintain self image (Ford, 1999).
- Fredrick Nietzsche (1844-1900) proclaimed "The world is false, cruel, contradictory, misleading, senseless…. We need lies to vanquish this reality, this "truth", we need lies in order to live…. That lying is a necessity of life and it is itself a part of the terrifying and problematic character of existence" (Nietzsche, 1873).
- Jean Piaget (1896-1980) studied deceptive behaviours in humans, particularly his own children. He found that deception is influenced by biology and the environment. Piaget thought deceptive actions like lying was based on self awareness, language use, and intentionality. However he also thought that some deceptive actions like manipulation was produced from imitation and mimicking (Boden, 1980).
Academic Resources and Annotations
Byrne, R.W. (2007). Clues to the origin of the human mind from primate observational field data. The Japanese Journal of Animal Psychology, 57(1), 1-14.
- Richard W. Byrne is Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. He studies the evolution of cognition, and has investigated a wide range of animal capabilities including deception, social comprehension, and mental mapping which are highlighted in this journal article. Byrne examined a great deal of empirical data relating to ‘tactical deception’ (particularly in great apes, monkeys and chimpanzees) contributed by field workers all over the world. He shared the results of the field study in a lecture which was recorded in the Japanese Journal of Animal Psychology. The compiled data indicates that deception in the simian primates is seen as a result of an ability to learn very quickly in social contexts. The increased neocortex size allows primates greater use of social manipulation by deception and other tactics. This evolutionary aspect of deception is an important consideration in the origin of deception in children.
Depaulo, B.M., Ansfield, M.E., Kirkendol, S.E., Boden, J.M. (2004). Serious lies. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 26(2-3), 147-167.
- Bella M. DePaulo from University of Virginia, Matthew E. Ansfield from Lawrence University, Susan E. Kirkendol from Pfeiffer College and Joseph M. Boden from University of Canterbury studied the causes of serious lies in relationships. In a study where participants were asked to tell personal stories about the most serious lie they told to someone, or the most serious lie that been told to them, they found that the most serious lies occur between people in the closest relationships such as romantic partners, best friends or close family members. The authors found that the lies were told to serve the following purposes: self-serving lies told for personal advantage, lies to avoid punishment, entitlement lies, self-serving lies told for psychological reasons, hurtful lies, lies told to protect the liar and lies told to protect others. Generally, it can be inferred that serious lies are told to hide bad behaviour that the liar knows he would be punished for, for personal gain or for altruistic reasons when the liar’s motive is to protect others. This study shows how lying serves as a tool to maintain or manipulate relationships between individuals.
Ford, C. (1999). Lies! lies! lies! The psychology of deceit. Washington: American Psychiatric Press.
- Different people tell different types of lies for different reasons. Charles Ford describes styles of deception and the role of personality in chapter six of his book Lies! Lies! Lies! The Psychology of Deceit. Throughout the chapter he explains that depending on an individuals personality, their personality may lend itself to encourage that person to lie more than others. Ford also explains four major personalities: antisocial, histrionic, borderline and narcissistic. These personalities are deceptive personalities that cause individuals to deceive for various reasons. More importantly this chapter reveals that personality has a role in deception because some individuals have neurocognitive deficits. These deficits are responsible for their deceptive behaviours which influence their personalities. Ford goes on by discussing that the deceit of these individuals may also be assisted by difficulty in the temporal organization of the memories, and difficulties in prefrontal lobe functioning which may increase impulsivity and decreased social judgment. The relevance of this chapter to the study of deception is that in this case deception is a part of nature. The degrees of freedom are low for individuals who possess deceptive personalities, limiting their behavioural options for telling the truth and being honest. There is little an individual can do about their neurocognitive function, prefrontal lobe functioning or temporal organization of memories.
Gambos, V. A. (2006). The cognition of deception: the role of executive processes in producing lies. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology, 132, 197-214.
- This article is relevant to the study of the causes and origins of deception because it elucidates that deception is a result of cognitive processes. Gombos a Psychologist of California State University focuses on the cognitive processes that deception needs in order to occur. He mainly focuses on the role of executive functioning. Gombos uses research from lie detection studies, developmental psychology, and neurocognitive imaging to provide empirical evidence for this hypothesis. These studies show that executive functioning such as attention, metacognition and management of working memory are central mechanisms for deception. What is being depicted is that without cognitive processes and more importantly executive functions, deception would not exist. It is important to note that this article explains the higher more complex systems within the brains and minds of humans. Gombos's observations on neuroimaging studies suggest that prefrontal (responsible for executive functions) and anterior cingulate cortices (responsible error detection) are particularly engaged during certain forms of deception, therefore executive processes support deceit.
Gino, F., Ayal, S., Ariely, D. (2009). Contagion and differentiation in unethical behaviour: The effect of one bad apple on the barrel. Psychological Science, 20(3), 393-398.
- Francesca Gino from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Shahar Ayal and Dan Ariely From Duke University, studied how conforming to group norms may increase individuals' tendency to dishonest behaviour. The authors experimentally studied the effect of exposure to dishonest behaviour on otherwise honest individuals in two steps: In the first experiment, the participants were exposed to an explicit deceptive behaviour that was rewarded when a confederate completed a task impossibly fast. They found that in fact such behaviour would increase dishonest behaviour among the other participants, in a greater extent when the confederate is an in-group member and lower extent when he’s an out-group member. In the second step, the participants were exposed to the idea of cheating without actually witnessing it when a confederate asked a question about cheating. This decreased deceptive behaviour. The results suggested that individuals' dishonesty depends on the social norms implied by deceptive or unethical behaviour of others, rather than just on cost-benefit calculation.
Hare, B., Call, J., & Tomasello, M. (2006). Chimpanzees deceive a human competitor by hiding. Cognition, 101(3), 495-514.
- Brian Hare, PhD., Biological Anthropology, Joseph Call, Psychologist and Social Scientist, and Michael Tomasello, Cognitive Psychologist, were all educated in the USA and have worked on several research projects together. From the primate centre at the Leipzig Zoo located in Germany they conducted experiments to test the cognitive skills of eight chimpanzees by using food and a human competitor. As the chimpanzees scrutinized the human’s behaviour by looking at the position of his body and the direction of his gaze, they skillfully manipulated routes hidden from the human to reach the contested food. These experiments revealed deliberate, deceptive thought and planning on the part of the chimpanzees. It is believed by many that human cognitive abilities are matched by corresponding animal behaviours.
Kraut, R.E., & Price, J.D. (1976). Machiavellianism in parents and their children. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 33, 782-786.
- This article provides evidence that deception is something that is developed and nurtured by socialization and association with parents who have Machiavellian personalities and beliefs. The article reveals that deception is a psychological phenomenon learned by children when they observe Machiavellian models in their environment. Robert Kraut (Cornell University) and J. Douglas Price(Temple University) conducted a study to identify the genesis of Machiavellian personalities. The study involved high and low Machiavellian sixth graders that played a bluffing game. Children’s high or low Machiavellianism was tested by the kiddie mach scale. Parents also completed a shortened version of the Mach IV scale and the Mach V scale to determine their Machiavellian beliefs. The results displayed that parents with Machiavellian beliefs had children who could manipulate others more successfully. Their children also had more Machiavellian beliefs. The fathers Machiavellian beliefs seemed to have had more of an impact on the children than the Machiavellian beliefs of their mothers. Children were more likely to have Machiavellian beliefs that corresponded with their fathers. The study also recognized that children’s Machiavellian beliefs and behaviours were learned separately. Reason being is that children’s success in the bluffing game did not correspond with the kiddie mach test that they completed. The results support the modeling identification hypothesis about the development of Machiavellian personality. Thus, parental Machiavellianism is perhaps a foreshadow and maybe a cause of children’s Machiavellian beliefs and success with manipulation.
Kummer, H. (1968). Social organization of hamadryas baboons. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Hans Kummer earned his Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Zurich and is one of the world's leading primate ethologists. This field study took place in the natural habitat of hamadryas baboons in Ethiopia, between November 1960 and October 1961. By making their presence visible to the baboons, Kummer and one of his colleagues observed behaviour patterns as related to grouping tendencies (social units) in the organization of the baboons. The display of deception by female baboons in the areas of grooming and copulation was frequently observed as the rules of the one-male unit were ignored. As per the evolution of cognition, deceptive behaviours displayed by the baboons during the field study can be interpreted to give some insight into the evolution of human cognition and in particular, deception in a social context.
Lanza, R.P., Starr, J., Skinner, B.F. (1982). “Lying” in the pigeon. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 38(2), 201-203.
- In this experiment, pigeons were used as subjects to learn about the cause and effect relationship between reinforcement and deception. Two pigeons (called 'Jack' and 'Jill') were trained to communicate colours to each other, and were dependent on each other to get food. The pigeons learned that with every correct answer they would receive positive reinforcement in the form of a short amount of time to access food. After a while, the researchers changed the reinforcement by allowing 'Jack' longer access to food every time he reported the colour red, even if it was a different colour, to 'Jill'. As a result, 'Jill' was deceived and also reported the colour red, but was not rewarded. This experiment arguably proved that one pigeon would lie for its own gain, at the cost of denying the another pigeon food.The study showed the most simple learned connection between positive reinforcement and deceptive behaviour. It’s debatable if this kind of simple and direct reinforcement would be applied to more complex creatures like humans. On the other hand, it can be argued that reinforcement and punishment applied by society do shape our tendency to engage in deceptive behaviour.
Lee, K., & Talwar, V. (2008). Social and cognitive correlates of children’s lying behaviour. Child Development, 79(4), 866-881.
- Dr. Victoria Talwar, Assistant Professor at McGill University, has been working in the area of developmental psychology with an emphasis on social-cognitive development. Her research interests include children’s verbal deception, children’s moral development and understanding the theory-of-mind and its equivalent behaviours. In collaboration with Dr. Kang whose focus is on the development of lying, they replicated and further modified Lewis et al.’s paradigm - the temptation resistance paradigm. The experimental methods are used to investigate how children come to grips with the concepts of lying. The findings suggest that with age children become increasingly capable of maintaining consistency while lying. This is the foundation to conceptualize that younger children may lack the cognitive abilities to be convincing lie-tellers, which may account for the developmental differences found in children’s lie telling behaviour at different ages.
Lewis, M., Saarni, C. (1993). Lying and deception in everyday life. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
- Michael Lewis, PhD, is a professor of Paediatrics and Psychiatry and Director of the Institute for the Study of Child Development at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Carolyn Saarni received her PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, specializing in developmental psychology. Within the same field of study, the two professors marked deception as one of the facets of development. They see deception in children as a mode of adaption in relation to the avoidance of punishment and protecting the feelings of others. The ability to do so more outstandingly is increased as the child matures and requires a higher IQ. Children with higher IQ were more prone to lying and the ones who told the truth reflected lower IQ. This connection between higher IQ and a better ability to deceive identifies deception as an innate characteristic of humans. However, the author also states that deceptive behaviour further develops from direct instructions of the primary caretakers and indirect observations.
Mann, S., & Vrij, A. (2007). The truth about deception. In S.D. Sala (ed), Tall tales about the mind and brain (pp.272-286). New York: Oxford University Press.
- Aldert Vrij and Samantha Mann both from the Psychology department of the University of Portsmouth explain the connection between personality and deception, in chapter 17 of Tall Tales about the Mind and Brain edited by Sergio Della Sala. In this circumstance individuals are born with the personalities that they possess. The chapter goes on to insist that extroverts, high self monitors, manipulators and the like will engage in deception more than others. One example is that individuals who are high self monitors frequently lie because they are very concerned with self presentation.
May, M.A., Hartshorne, H. (1928). Sibling resemblance in deception. In G.M. Whipple (Ed.), Twenty-Seventh Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education: Nature and Nurture, Part II--Their Influence upon Achievement (pp. 161-177). Bloomington: Public School Publishing Co.
- The authors Mark A. May form Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut and Hugh Hartshorne from the Institute of Educational Research, Teachers College, Columbia University, tried to find the causes of deceptive behaviour in children by comparing this behaviour in pairs of siblings and in pairs of unrelated individuals, and seeing how the pairs resemble each other. They studied over seven hundred pairs of school kids from a wide range of socio-economic class in grades 4 to 7 and gave them the opportunity to deceive in a number of everyday behaviors to test for resemblance in deception in different areas. They checked pairs of siblings that grew up in the same home, as well as orphans, to make sure that the resemblance is not only because they grew up in the same environment. They concluded that there is an obvious resemblance between siblings in deception due to 3 factors: 1) collusion (one sibling affects the behavior of another); 2) home environment; 3) heredity (there was a resemblance both between siblings who grew up in the same home and orphans). Therefore the conclusion was that just as with intelligence, the causes of deception are both biological and environmental. The authors did not determine the relative importance of those factors in causing deceptive behavior. The data collected in the study is significant enough to infer that it’s reliable and accurate, although as the authors themselves stated it would be more complete if they had collected data form experimenting with pairs of kids that grew up in foster families and compared pairs of identical twins with non-identical twins.
Peterson, Candida C., Peterson, James L., Seeto, Diane, (1983). Developmental changes in the ideas about lying. Child Development, 54(6), 1529-1535.
- Candida C. Peterson, James L. Peterson and Diane Seeto from Murdoch University, analyzed the changing definitions of lying from the ages 5 to 11 years old and also adults. In this empirical study, 200 participants were evenly placed in the age groups above and were shown videos depicting “deliberate” lies and “unintentional” untrue statements. The participants were asked to determine what motion pictures were true and which ones were a form of deception. Lastly the participants were asked to rate how serious they felt the deceptive occurrence was. The children rated the deceptive occurrences more strictly because of their moral values where as the adults were more lenient. This study showed the change from objectively evaluating untruths by children to subjective evaluations of adults based on their moral development.
Reddy, V. (2008). How infants know minds. Cambridge, MA, US: Harvard University Press.
- Professor Vasudevi Reddy has been teaching at British universities since 1986 and is a Chartered member of the British Psychological Society. She is currently head of the department of Development and Cultural Psychology at the University of Portsmouth in England. She focuses on the origins and development of social cognition, mainly in young infants. In this book she examines how infants engage with other people. Psychologists had thought that infants were not capable of intentional lying until the age of four years old. Contrary to this conventional belief, Dr. Reddy reveals (in chapter ten of her book) tactics of deception used by infants from six months old who clearly demonstrate that they are able to distinguish what they are doing and that it will have an effect on others. Empirical data including videotapes were examined from various external sources as well as her own studies. The results shed new light on deception in children regarding the age of development of the ‘theory of mind’.
Ritblatt, S. (2000). Children’s level of participation in a false belief task, age, and theory of the mind. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 161, 53-64.
- Dr. Shumalamit Ritblatt, a doctor of philosophy in child development and family relations and an experienced child psychologist discusses her findings on the theory of the mind in young children. This article reveals that for a child to engage in deception, an understanding of intention and the ability to interpret mental states is required. The acquisition of the theory of mind is necessary in order for an individual to have the ability to deceive. To prove this Ritblatt developed a procedure that could examine young children’s (as young as 2 years old) representational understanding of deception. To better understand the experiment there were three independent variables, age, type of pretend play (doll or socio drama) and the doll or child’s type of character (good or bad). The dependent variable was the scoring of the child’s ability to use the appropriate deceptive strategy. The results revealed that four year olds engage in more deceptive strategies than two and three year olds in pretend play and socio dramatic play. There was no significant difference between the two and three year olds and their use of deceptive strategies, however, they both use notably fewer strategies in bad roles than in good roles. There was no considerable difference found in the three age groups performances in the good roles. Ritblatt argued that the reality hypothesis is responsible for the dissimilarity in performances on the task and claimed that the results of the experiment demonstrated the universality of the theory of the mind as an innate ability in young children.
Stern, C., Stern, W. (1999). Recollection, testimony, and lying in early childhood. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
- The Sterns are German psychologists who did an observational study on the development of their children. They were interested in the application of witness testimonials, with the focus on achieved accuracy. The study was on the basis of deception and the ability to recognize truths. In discussing the origins of deception, they stated that lying is inborn and inevitable in children, yet the degree of how much the innate characteristics influences lying varies. Characteristics such as survival instincts, imagination, imitation, motivations, willingness, and the tendency to evaluate are the basic tendencies to ignite a lie. These subjective influences impact a child differently according to the child’s “milieu”. The Sterns evidence supports both the nativist and empiricist influences on the development of deception.
Wiseman, R. (2007). Quirkology. New York: Basic Books.
- Psychologist Richard Wiseman discusses his knowledge on discovering big truths in small things. In chapter two of Quirkology, Wiseman views deception as something that is learned by the experiences an individual encounters. He insists that deception is actually a psychological phenomenon that individuals (children) learn from others around them. These influential people can be parents, siblings, friends, teachers and the like. The chapter goes on to explain that deception is used in a variety of settings for an array of different reasons. Wiseman includes many experiments that he himself has conducted to elucidate where deception comes from and why individuals might engage in deception in certain circumstances.
- Boden, M. (1980). Jean Piaget. New York: Viking Press.
- Krout, M.H. (1931). The psychology of children’s lies. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 26(1), 1-27.
- Nietzsche, F. (1873). On truth and lies in a nonmoral sense. Retrieved May 2, 2009 from http://www.corrupt.org/data/files/friedrich_nietzsche/etc/friedrich_nietzsche-on_truth_and_lies_in_a_nonmoral_sense.pdf.
- Piaget, J. (1997). The moral judgment of the child. New York: Free Press Paperbacks.
Guilbert, J. (2008). Why kids lie: An age-by-age guide. Retrieved May 21, 2009 from http://m.cnn.com/cnn/ne/yyfamily/detail/195675/full;jsessionid=B48FF27079E17D2130D74DD317DAFF13.live5i
Why children lie-relates to stage development-the reasons for children lying at different stages. 
Why children lie- stage development, social causes, imitation, testing boundaries. Explaining that lying is a normal developmental behaviour and how to deal with it 
Abe, N., Fujii, T., Itoh, M., Mori, E., Suzuki, M. (2007). Deceiving others: Distinct Neural Responses of the Prefrontal Cortex and Amygdala in Simple Fabrication and Deception with Social Interactions.(pages 287-295). Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The brain has been measured for deceit by being investigated in recent times using neuroimaging techniques such as funtional magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography. Although this approach has a little bit of clarity of how the functional is involved with the prefrontal cortex in deception to the executive function. The roles of the subregions within the prefrontal cortex and other parts of the brain help with the emotional and social interactions while deception is happening, but are not so clear. There was a test conducted to see if lying falsly and decieving others can be related to what goes on in those regions of the brain. The experiment showed that when someone lied falsly, it increased activity in the brain known as the left dorsolateral and right anterior prefrontal cortexes, therefore proving that functions of the brain are realted to lying falsly. For deceiving, it showed that there is a response in the ventromedial prefrontal(medial orbitofrontal)cortex and the amygdala, showing the that brain regions are responsible for the emotionaal and social interaction that are there during deceptive behaviour, similarly what we go through in our daily lives. This just shows that parts of our brain can control s to why we decieve others.
Small, F.M. (2008). Deception:As human as sex itself. LiveScience's Human Nature Columnist.
According to Evolutionary psychologists, people lie so that they can reproduce successful, rather than those who are honest. Some examples of these are when a male is unfaithful to his partner and has sex with others, so that he can have more offspring to pass on his genes, instead of just being faithful and not having many children. Another exapmle of deception for evolution is to maintain a high position in a social hierarchy, by lying to the group about actually following the rules that were given by them, will up his chances pass on his genes. This shows us that people lie so that they can have children and pass on their genes to them.
Dr. Quek, T. (2002). The truth about a child's compulsive lying. Retrieved May 21, 2009 from http://webhome.idirect.com/~readon/lies.html
Chidlren do lie when they are younger, but then there is compulsive lying, which is caused by social disorders such as A.D.H.D. And by having compulsive lying, it can cause many other different things as well, such as stealing, cheating, aggression and so on. When a child is asked why they lie, there are many reason as to why they do. Some are fear, habit, modelling, and overprediction. They fear if they tell the truth, that they are going to be punished for it, or someone else is going to be punished as well. Also, if a child lies continuously, it becomes a habit and it is difficult to get out of doing it. Children are always around people who lie, so they learn from their models, an example could be when a father lies to the mother, and the child sees that, they think its right to do. And the child could lie as well because they predict what the parent is going to say, so they lie about it. This shows that children learn through experiences on how to lie to others.
NCA News. (2008). Understanding Why People Lie and Deceive; Journal of International and Intercultural Communication Investigates Cultural Differences in Deception. National Communication Association. Retrieved May 21, 2009 from http://www.natcom.org/index.asp?bid=12822
This article is letting us know how the culture of people can influence us to be honest or dishonest to others around us. People who consider a lot of their own individuality, do not have anything to lie about. People who put their culture individuality, puts the groups needs over their own, and tend to be more prone to deceive. We noticed that someone who is more into self, they tend to lie for self purposes. But those who think of others rather than self, they lie to protect those around them and that would benefit others, but themselves. This just shows that people lie considering what culture they are in and who they are lying for.