herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Children who lie 'grow up to be brighter'

science

If your six-year-old is a seasoned little fibber, don't fret - it probably means he or she is unusually bright, according to a new study.

Scientists have found the first clear evidence that children who are good liars have better verbal working memories.

What this means is they are especially adept at keeping track of verbal information, a skill associated with being quick and clever.

Psychologist Dr Elena Hoicka, a member of the team from the University of Sheffield, said: "While parents are usually not too proud when their kids lie, they can at least be pleased to discover that when their children are lying well, it means their children are becoming better at thinking and have good memory skills.

Tempted

The study involved a quiz in which 114 six and seven-year-old children were tempted to cheat by peeking at an answer written on the back of a card.

First the children were given two easy questions: "what noise does a dog make?" and "what colour are bananas?"

They were then asked if they knew the name of the cartoon character Spaceboy. Each child was left alone with an upturned card on which the answer was written, and told not to peek.

The answer, Jim, was written on the back of the card in green ink with a picture of a monkey.

All this time they were being observed hidden video camera.

The scientists therefore knew who had looked at the back of the card and who had not.

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