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The relationship between white lie and executive function in young children
The present study examined the relationship between lying and three specific components of executive function (EF) in young children (inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility, and working memory). Ninety children (three age groups : 3-4, 4-5, and 5-6 year olds ; n = 27, 33, 30, respectively) performed two lying tasks, three EF tasks, and the Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised (PVT-R). The lying tasks examined whether or not children were able to lie, requiring them to rescue a popular animated character by tricking his enemy ; that is, we tested whether or not children could tell a white lie. In the executive function tasks, three types of task (a red-blue task, a dimensional change card sort task, and a backward digit span task) were conducted. The results revealed the following : 1) More 4-5 year-olds than 3-4 year-olds were able to tell a white lie. 2) In the EF tasks and the PVT-R, 5-6 year-olds were more accurate than 3-4 year-olds and 4-5 year-olds. 3) There was no correlation between lying and EF when PVT-R score was controlled for. These results are discussed from the perspective of lying behavior in young children.
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