The main purpose of our project is to longitudinally assess young children's ability to conceal incriminating information in relation to their socio-cognitive development and to their internalizing/externalizing behaviors.
Primarily, we are investigating the development of deceptive skills in young children and how this relates to their executive functioning and theory of mind. Based on previous results* and preliminary data collected so far, we anticipate our innovative deception task (the RT-based CIT) to be efficient in detecting deceptive responses.
Additionally, we estimate that children with higher reaction time and better abilities to inhibit certain information and shift to a different response would present increased deceptive skills as well. Better understanding of other people’s beliefs (ToM) should also be predictive of children’s deceptive behavior. We also expect that developmental improvements in theory of mind and executive functioning to further influence children’s lie-telling behavior.
Furthermore, we are also looking into young children’s deceptive behavior in connection with their internalizing/externalizing symptoms and socio-emotional competences. As such, we expect children with increased levels of internalizing behaviors (anxiety, depression) to have poorer abilities of concealing incriminating information, whereas children displaying elevated externalizing problems (conduct problems, aggression) should have more accurate deceptive responses. Lastly, from an exploratory standpoint, we predict that social skills and emotional abilities will be specifically related to truth and lie-telling behaviors.
Firstly, we aim to reveal the first wave of longitudinal results by publishing them in a paper appearing in a Web of Science indexed (ISI) Journal (Psychology, Crime and Law), followed by other studies derived from the upcoming data collection.
We are also planning on extensively disseminating our results by preparing a book on children’s deceptive behavior, which will review current literature and integrate our conclusions, discussing their specific applicability to the Romanian educational and judicial context.
Lastly, we wish to organize an international workshop, creating a specific context to disseminate our results among other experts in the field as well as teachers and practitioners, in order to encourage further research and discuss the applied implications of these findings.
*Results presented in Laura Visu-Petra, Oana Ciornei & Ovidiu Jurje (submitted for publication). “Can you keep a secret? A preliminary study introducing the RT-based Concealed Information test to young children”