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Abstract

Deception is a normative human behavior, but not all deception is created equal. This review of recent literature demonstrates that the ability to tell a lie is a cognitive milestone and that deceit may be used with both prosocial and antisocial intentions. Research indicates that children who have the cognitive capacity and the emotional intelligence to tell prosocial lies are often the result of parents who employ the authoritative parenting style. More specifically, a preschool-aged child ’s ability to tell a prosocial lie (i.e., one that spares feelings or avoids conflicts) is heavily influenced by family climate and parenting technique. This review examines the effects of parental modeling and cognitive development of young children with regard to a young child ’s ability to tell a prosocial lie. The implications of parents modeling socially appropriate deceptive behaviors, as well as parental fostering of empathy and perspective-taking abilities, is discussed.

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