The Relation between Young Children's False Response Latency, Executive Functioning, and Truth-Lie Understanding
65 Merrill-Palmer Quarterly 81-100 (2019)
34 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2017 Last revised: 31 Mar 2019
Date Written: March 29, 2019
This study examined relations between children’s false statements and response latency, executive functioning, and truth-lie understanding in order to understand what underlies children’s emerging ability to make false statements. A total of 158 (2- to 5-year-old) children earned prizes for claiming that they were looking at birds even when presented with images of fish. Children were asked recall (“what do you have?”), recognition (“do you have a bird/fish?”), and outcome (“did you win/lose?”) questions. Response latencies were greater when children were presented with fish pictures than bird pictures, particularly when they were asked recall questions, and were greater for false statements than for true statements, again when children were asked recall questions. Older but not younger children exhibited longer latencies when making false responses to outcome questions, suggesting that younger children were providing impulsive desire-based responses to the outcome questions. Executive functioning, as measured by the day-night Stroop task, was not related to false statements. Children who were better at labeling statements on a truth-lie identification task were more proficient at making false statements. The results support the proposition that the cognitive effort required for making false statements is dependent upon the types of questions asked.
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