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Monkey see, Monkey do?

You may want to think twice before telling an innocent white lie to your child. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have found that lied-to children may be more likely to cheat and lie compared with children who are told the truth.

The researchers separated children aged 3-7 into two groups, telling one group that there was a bowl of candy in the next room, and inviting the other group into the room to play a game (with no promise of candy). Researchers quickly told the first group that there was no candy, they had told the children a lie in order to get them into the room to play the game.

To test their theory, researchers then asked both groups of children to identify toys they couldn't see by their sounds. One toy was especially tricky, and when that toy's sound was played, the experimenter was called out of the room deliberately, leaving the children alone and tempting them to peek at the toy. Researchers found that the 5-6, - and 7-year-olds who had been lied to were both more likely to cheat and more likely to lie about having done so, compared with the children who had not been lied too. The 3- and 4-year-olds lied at the same rate.

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