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Yes, Mom and Dad, I Lied — But That’s All Your Fault

Yes Mom and Dad I Lied But That s All Your Fault Pacific Standard The Science of Society


Interestingly, the “appeals” methods—stressing honesty as being the objectively right thing, or at least a way of pleasing the adult—proved to be much more effective in promoting honesty than focusing purely on punishment. The external appeals, stressing how happy a child’s honesty would make the researcher, proved to be most effective. “Because children at a young age are most concerned about pleasing adults, external appeals may have the greatest potency in motivating children to tell the truth,” the authors write.

So, don’t threaten to punish your kid for lying. Instead, focus on how happy you’ll be when they tell the truth.

“The bottom line is that punishment does not promote truth-telling,” Talwar says in a press release. “In fact, the threat of punishment can have the reverse effect by reducing the likelihood that children will tell the truth when encouraged to do so.”

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The law of unintended consequences rules.

I like that: reward the truth instead of punishing the lie.