Perceptions of Dishonesty: Understanding Parents’ Reports of and Influence on Children and Adolescents’ Lie-Telling

  • Victoria W. Dykstra
  • Teena Willoughby
  • Angela D. EvansEmail author
Empirical Research


Previous studies suggest parents lack knowledge regarding child and adolescent lie-telling; however, no study to date has examined children’s and parents’ reports of lying within parent–child dyads. The current study examined parents’ knowledge of and influence on children’s and adolescents’ lie-telling. Parent–child dyads (N= 351) completed self-report surveys. Children (8–14 years, 52.3% children female) reported on prosocial and antisocial lie-telling. Parents (Mage = 41.68, 89.5% parents female) reported on their child’s lie-telling, as well as their own honesty-targeted parenting strategies and modeling of dishonest behaviors. Parents’ reports were unrelated to children’s and adolescents’ reports of prosocial and antisocial lie-telling. Additionally, parents’ honesty-targeted parenting strategies and modeling of dishonesty did not predict children’s lie-telling. Parents’ behaviors predicted their reports of children’s lie-telling, suggesting parents’ behaviors bias their reports. Parents’ biased perception of adolescents lie-telling may have negative implications for parent–child relationships.


Prosocial lie-telling Antisocial lie-telling Lie-telling Parenting Modeling 



The authors would also like to thank the research assistants who assisted with data collection, as well as the parents and children for their participation in the study.

Authors’ Contributions

V.W.D. conceived of the research question, performed the statistical analyses, and helped to draft the manuscript; T.W. conceived of the study design and coordination and provided input on drafts of the manuscript; A.D.E. conceived of the lie-telling study design, developed the questions and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


Teena Willoughby acknowledges funding from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and Angela D. Evans acknowledges funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Data Sharing and Declaration

This manuscript’s data will not be deposited.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee Brock University Research Ethics Board (reference number: 16-080) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individuals prior to participating.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada

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