Oct 11, Compassionate deception: Do children tell lies to be kind?

Compassionate deception: Do children tell lies to be kind? © 2018 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved There are times when we approve of lying, when we believe it’s the better option. For instance, suppose a would-be murderer comes to your door. He asks you to tell him where his intended victim is hiding. Should you tell him the truth? Throughout the world, adults have the same intuition: Truth-telling isn’t an absolute moral imperative. Sometimes, the good of preventing harm to others outweighs the good of telling the truth. But how do children wrestle with these considerations? The youngest kids will have trouble because they lack the developmental skills to tell lies. As I explain elsewhere, an effective liar needs to have solid “theory of mind" skills, and show advanced levels of self-control. But as children approach the age of 4, they become more adept with lying, and eventually they may begin to tell prosocial lies: fibs designed to spare other people's feelin..
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