Emergence of White-Lie Telling in Children Between 3 and 7 Years of Age
Abstract

White-lie-telling behavior in 3 to 7-years-olds was examined using a Reverse Rouge Task. Before children took a photograph of the experimenter, the experimenter asked, "Do I look okay for the photo?" In the experimental condition, the experimenter's nose had a visible mark; in the control condition, it did not. Most of the children in the experimental condition told white lies. Undergraduates who saw children's videotaped responses could not discriminate the white-lie tellers from the control nonliars. Analysis of the children's expressive behavior revealed that white-lie tellers only differed from control nonliars on three categories. Results suggest that children are not always candid truth tellers. They are able to use both verbal and nonverbal display rules and tell white lies in politeness situations.