Factors that facilitate and undermine children's beliefs about truth telling

Paul Wagland, Kay Bussey*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    This study examined the extent to which children believe that truth telling is compromised by negative outcome expectancies. It also investigated the efficacy of two types of appeals, externally and internally directed, for encouraging truth telling. Seventy-two children from three age groups (5, 7, and 10 years of age) participated in a vignette study designed to examine these issues. Results showed that children believed that truth telling about an adult's transgression would be more likely if negative outcomes were not expected than if they were expected. Further, children believed that either externally or internally focused encouragement would facilitate truth telling when negative outcomes were expected for truth telling. Beliefs about the propensity for truth telling were associated more with positive evaluations of truth telling than with negative evaluations of lying. These results have important implications for court cases in which children testify about an adult who has sworn them to secrecy and they are afraid to speak the truth.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)639-655
    Number of pages17
    JournalLaw and Human Behavior
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005


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