New study into how toddlers learn to lie

Dr Elena Hoicka
Dr Elena Hoicka
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ACADEMICS ARE looking to find out how babies and toddlers learn to deceive, from birth to the age of four.

Dr Elena Hoicka at Sheffield University is seeking to discover how early forms of deception, such as hiding things so others can’t find them, might link to later stages of deception, like fabricating stories.

Parents across the world are invited to participate in a study by completing the Early Deception Survey online at during the month of August.

The survey asks questions about what types of deception children understand and produce, such as denying things they’ve done - like eating their brother’s chocolate bar or to make people feel better - like saying they love a gift they really hate. It takes around 20 minutes to register and complete the survey. Dr Hoicka wants to hear from parents of all types of children, including children with typical development, as well as children with any other pattern of development, such as Down’s syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Dr Hoicka said: “On the surface, deception might not be the favourite childhood achievement of parents. However it’s an important milestone in development, showing that children can successfully navigate the social world, and revealing that children are becoming better at thinking skills too.

“Yet we know virtually nothing about how deception develops before the age of 3 years, so it is very important to find out what kinds of deception children are exposed to early on, and to learn about their early attempts at deception.

“Without having a fuller understanding of how deception develops, it makes it difficult to know what to expect, and when children may be having difficulties.It is really important for parents of children from birth to preschool age to help us answer these critical questions about the early development of deception.”