Monday, February 11, 2008

Learning To Lie

From Po & Ash:

This is an exciting week for us. Exactly a year ago that our praise piece hit the news stands, we're on our way to Boston to accept our AAAS award – and we have a new cover story for New York Magazine that hits the stands today.

The new piece, entitled "Learning to Lie," explores why kids lie. First considering the prevalence of teens' lying to their parents, on a wide variety of topics, we examine when lying begins for little kids: discussing the work of scholars such as McGill University's Dr. Victoria Talwar, we take a look at the developmental (cognitive) and environmental factors that come into play (such as parents and siblings). We then return to teens' lying – to examine how this lying is more about a teen's development of autonomy. And that surprisingly, it turns out that, for a teen, arguing is actually a good sign; it means the teen respects an adult enough to tell the truth about what's going on in her life.

We sincerely hope that you'll enjoy it.


Blogger JasonWomack said...

I just read the article in the New York!

I'm an uncle (my wife's sister has two kids - under 3), and I'm realizing just how precious the "honesty factor" is!

I'm going to watch this over the next little while.

Thank you for writing this one...


5:08 PM  
Blogger John Wisse said...

Phenomenal piece Po.

It was most interesting to note that children supposedly lie relative to their's the advanced skill? I seem to remember hearing parents say to their kids when we grew up in the 50s and 60s "it's stupid to lie, just tell me the truth." Great job Po.

John Wisse, Columbus OH

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

True that lying is a symptom of bigger problems. I discovered that when someone lied to me, it is a sign that the person feels they cannot trust me. They also lie to others. They have problems trusting others. They grew up in abusive (emotional and/or physical) homes. There was a time in my life when I lied all the time because I was thrown into a very uncomfortable situation. I quickly learned that in order to survive, I had to tell people what they wanted to hear or face dire consequences. I was under constant pressure to shun my beloved friends and friends. I decided my friends and family are important to me. In order to be my authentic self and to save my sanity, I had to be honest with myself and others.

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Erik said...

Fascinating piece. I'd love to read more about this. Could you post some recommended further reading?

6:26 PM  
Blogger Ashley Merryman said...

Hi, Erik --

I wish I did have something else to suggest to read, but I just don't. I haven't read all of the popular books on the subject, but most I've read include a lot of outdated research and misinformation.

If you are interested in some of the scholars' actual research, Dr. Talwar has some of her work on her website, but other than that.... Her website's at:

9:32 AM  
Blogger Graham said...

Have you considered the relevance of your piece "Learning to lie" (published May 3rd in "The Australian" newspaper as "Why kids lie") to kids with Asperger's Syndrome?

You say:
"Therefore, lying demands both advanced cognitive development and social skills that honesty simply doesn’t require."

Those social skills include strong theory of mind, which those of us with Asperger's Syndrome simply do not have at that age.

By the time we're old enough to do theory of mind by a process of logic, we've missed the boat on learning to lie.

We spend the rest of our lives cringing every time someone politely asks us "How are you today?", despite knowing full well that the correct response is to mumble "fine thanks" and get on with business.

Graham in Australia

5:58 AM  
Blogger Po Bronson said...

Yes, there's a fair bit of science on lying, and the lack of it, and the difficulty of white lies, in people with Asperger's Syndrome - it's just as you suggest,

11:50 AM  
Blogger Mahendra said...

Dear PO,

I just read the reader's comments and the first chapter of your book "what Should I do with My Life" and felt compelled to write to you (Or say, just let my natural urge to acknowledge, flow free)

I always believed in the fact that life and the mysticism that surrounds it are universal, irrespective of cultural moorings or region. I will continue reading, but I guess all the readers comments upfront kind of sum up the message quiet nicely. Thanks for not trying to build the message in a "framework" as it the wont with many authors and intellects. Nothing to take away from what they are trying to say, but most of the times, they just confuse of the heck out of a reader who would like to approach the truth in a different way.

Sincere Regards,

Mahendra Penumathsa

2:20 AM  
Blogger questionsaboutfaith said...

Thanks for blog. Very good information and interesting stories.

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Josh Spurlock said...

Honesty from teens is a good thing. It's important for parents to create an environment where a teen feels their voice matters.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

Interesting piece. I have a 3-year old and she just started fibbing, e.g., shouting "I didn't do nothing" when I saw her do something to her sister. Can't wait until she's a teen...

9:53 AM  

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