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  • By: Angela M. Crossman, Jason Mandelbaum & Laure Brimbal
  • In: Encyclopedia of Language Development
  • Edited by: Patricia J. Brooks & Vera Kempe
  • Subject:Language Development, Language & Communication

Lying is the act of intentionally misleading someone through speech. This differs from deception, which may involve both verbal and nonverbal behaviors. For children to lie effectively, they must develop sufficient understanding of the concept of lying to be able to cognitively construct and plausibly maintain their lies. Developmental aspects of lying are discussed below along with the linguistic tools used to detect deception in children.

Early studies on the development of lying in children distinguished true lies, which are intentionally deceptive utterances, from fantasies, mistakes, and pseudo lies. Pseudo lies are affective responses rather than intentionally false statements (e.g., a young child says, “No,” when questioned, fearing punishment for a misdeed). Children's attempts to lie appear as early as age 2 years. However, children at ...

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