If there were an Oscar for lying, then on behalf of both my daughters, I’d like to thank the Academy. They couldn’t be here tonight to accept the award themselves because they were both grounded for lying. For the ninth time — and that was just before breakfast.
“Oh, you’re saying it wasn’t you who ate a chocolate bar and then shoved the wrapper under your covers? Alright, well, please go wipe the delicious brown stuff off your cheeks anyway.”
“Yes, my darling, you’re right; surely I must have been the one to squeeze an entire tube of toothpaste into the sink and then draw a smiley face on the mirror with it. My apology for accusing you. Allow me to go clean it up.”
It’s not a secret that little kids lie, or that they’re not especially good at it (with the exception of me; I was a great liar when I was a kid).
A new study, published in the September issue of Acta Psychologica, shows that kids between the ages of 6 and 8 and adults 60 and over are the most honest among us — although perhaps that is partially because young kids aren’t particularly adept at making up good lies on the fly.
The study asked over 1,000 kids and adults about the frequency of their lies over a 24-hour period (never mind that the methodology seems a little fraught, considering the subject matter). Two lies a day was the average, although teens peaked at 2.8 daily. To determine the “best” liar, they measured each person’s response time: the quicker each person answered the question being asked, the more “executive control” they demonstrated in not stuttering or pausing. Teens were crowned as the winner.
As for why teens lie the most, Yahoo Parenting spoke to Fran Walfish, a child and family psychotherapist, who said, “Most people lie to get out of accountability or to avoid owning up to an error, and that’s generally the case with teenagers.”
That seems like a fancy way of saying teens lie because their bodies are coursing with hormones that whisper to them that parents are the enemies who will never understand why the thing they must do right now is not dangerous/important/the best.
In other words, teens lie as they attempt to make their own way in the world, which they might think their parents will not approve of or understand. In some ways, lying is a form of maturing, although as a parent, it’s not always so easy to dismiss repeated untruths.
That is, unless you’re Homer Simpson, who once made a surprisingly strong case for not enabling liars: “Marge, it takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen.”More On