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, 11 (4), 495-503

Lying in the Name of the Collective Good: A Developmental Study

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Lying in the Name of the Collective Good: A Developmental Study

Genyue Fu et al. Dev Sci.

Abstract

The present study examined the developmental origin of 'blue lies', a pervasive form of lying in the adult world that is told purportedly to benefit a collective. Seven, 9-, and 11-year-old Chinese children were surreptitiously placed in a real-life situation where they decided whether to lie to conceal their group's cheating behavior. Children were also assessed in terms of their willingness in hypothetical situations to endorse lying or truth-telling that benefits a collective but at the same time harms an individual. Results showed that as age increased, children became more inclined to endorse lying in the name of the collective good, and to tell lies for their group themselves. Furthermore, children's endorsement about blue lies in hypothetical situations predicted their actual lying behavior.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Percent of 7-, 9-, 11-year-olds who lied for their class by age in Experiments 1 and 2 when they faced a real-life situation where they had to choose to lie or tell the truth about their group’s cheating behavior.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Seven-, 9-, and 11-year-old children’s mean lie-for-self and lie-for-collective choice scores in Experiment 1 where they faced hypothetical moral dilemmas and had to choose to lie or tell the truth for a collective or self (the bars represent standard errors).
Figure 3
Figure 3
Seven-, 9-, and 11-year-old children’s mean moral judgment scores in Experiment 2 where they evaluated story characters’ decision to lie or tell the truth for a collective or self when the story characters encountered moral dilemmas of lie- or truth-telling (the bars represent standard errors).

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