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Developmental Psychology on Honesty - Dictionary of Arguments

Slater I 169
Honesty/developmental psychology: By age seven, children show a strong distinction in their reasoning about lying in transgression contexts versus politeness contexts (Bussey, 1999(1); Heyman, Sweet, &
Lee, 2009(2); Peterson, Peterson, & Seeto, 1983(3); Walper & Valtin, 1992(4)).
In transgression contexts, a protagonist does something wrong, such as writing in a library book, and is later asked whether he or she did it. In these situations, the protagonist is likely to be concerned about getting into trouble by telling the truth. Children tend to be more approving of truth telling in transgression situations than in politeness situations, and less approving of lying in transgression situations than in politeness situations.
By the time children reach age seven, they tend to view a concern for the feelings of others as a central factor that motivates lie telling in politeness situations (Heyman, Sweet, & Lee, 2009(4); see also Broomfield, Robinson, & Robinson, 2002(5)).


1. Bussey, K. (1999). Children’s categorization and evaluation of different types of lies and truths.
Child Development, 70, 1338—1347.
2. Heyman, G. D., Sweet, M. A., & Lee, K. (2009). Chi1drens reasoning about lie-telling and truth-telling in politeness contexts. Social Development, 18, 728—746.
3. Peterson, C. C., Peterson, J. L., & Seeto, D. (1983). Developmental changes in ideas about lying. Child
Development, 54, 15 29—1535.
4. Walper, S., & Valtin, R. (1992). Children’s understanding of white lies. In W. Winter, R. J. Watts, S.
Ide, & K. Ehlich, Politeness in language: Studies in history, theory and practice (pp. 231—251). Trends in
Linguistics: Studies and Monographs, 59. Berlin, New York Mouton de Gruyter.
5. Broomfield, K. A., Robinson, E. J., & Robinson, W. P. (2002). Children’s understanding about white lies. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 20, 47—65.


Gail D. Heyman and Kang Lee, “Moral Development. Revisiting Kohlberg’s Stages“, in: Alan M. Slater and Paul C. Quinn (eds.) 2012. Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies. London: Sage Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Developmental Psychology
Slater I
Alan M. Slater
Paul C. Quinn
Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2012


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