Are Lying Kids More Intelligent?

It probably should come as no surprise but kids with good memories are better liars.

Or, as some people think, more intelligent.

Say what?

Turns out the higher a child’s verbal working memory -- the ability to process information -- the better their ability to process the verbal information necessary to tell a believable lie.

Verbal working memory contributes to complex social interactions, like lying, because children need to juggle multiple pieces of information while keeping the lie in mind.

Sadly, my son is a good liar.  He doesn't do it often but he's so good at it, I don't usually know he's doing it.  Maybe it's because I trust him (too much?).

I have to admit, I have a good kid.  So when he does something wrong, I don't always see it.  It started out small in elementary school, where we'd ask if he had homework, he would say no, and then we'd find out (in fifth grade) that he never turned in a final paper.  Actually, now that I think about it, it was more a lie of omission.  We didn't know about the assignment until the teacher told us what happened.

We attributed it to "senioritis" (it was his last assignment in grade school), but we took note of it.   I tried to think of another instance, but couldn't. No, I don't have a perfect kid.  He just doesn't lie that much!  (But then, would I know?!)

“Some do it to get out of trouble, others do it because other people might feel bad and they feel bad, and still others might do it just because they think it’s fun to pull the wool over somebody’s eyes,” says Dr. Robyn Silverman, a child development specialist, at “There’s different lies. Some are socially acceptable and we say, Thank goodness you’re lying about that sweater that Grandma got you’, and others, we wish they would tell the truth.” 

"We already know that adults lie in approximately a fifth of their social exchanges lasting 10 or more minutes, so it’s interesting to know why some children are able to tell better lies than others," said Dr. Elena Hoika, a professor of psychology at the University of Sheffield at

Another researcher remarked that this is the first time it has been shown that verbal working memory in particular has strong links to lying, not just any working memory. Said Dr. Tracy Alloway, a UNF associate professor of psychology and one of the lead researchers, “Parents may sometimes become frustrated when their child lies about sticking their hand in a cookie jar, but we can take heart that the more believable the explanation for the crumbs around their mouth, the more intelligent they are."


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