The development of trust judgements about lie-tellers during middle childhood
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This thesis investigates children's trust evaluations for lie-tellers across three ages (7-,9-, and 11-year-olds) and a number of social situations. A total of 145 primary school children were tested on a Lie-Telling Evaluation Task (LET), created by the researchers, and classical interpretive ToM tasks. Lie-Telling Evaluation Task (LET) included eight short stories in which the protagonist lied. Half of the stories involved a culturally-appropriate lie, whereas the other half showcased a self-oriented lie: The participants were asked to rate their reliability and emotional trust towards the protagonist. Parents' general parenting styles and lie-telling behavior towards their children for instrumental purposes during preschool was investigated. The analysis focused on children's trust evaluations on three lie scenarios: avoiding punishment, avoiding shame, and being polite. Results indicated that children reported all lie-tellers as untrustworthy, yet lie scenario had a significant effect on trust judgements. There was also an interaction of lie scenario and age such that children's trust evaluations for a protagonist lying to avoid punishment and to be polite decreased with age while children's trust evaluations for a protagonist lying to avoid shame increased. Children' s total ToM abilities, parenting styles and parents' instrumental use of threat lies were not related to children's trust for the above three scenarios. However, parents' instrumental use of threat lies towards their children indirectly affected the influence of children's overall ToM performance on their trust evaluations for lie-tellers lying to avoid punishment.
Theory of mind