The Psychological Record

, Volume 57, Issue 4, pp 517–531 | Cite as

Deictic Relational Complexity and the Development of Deception

  • Louise McHughEmail author
  • Yvonne Barnes-Holmes
  • Dermot Barnes-Holmes
  • Ian Stewart
  • Simon Dymond


An empirical investigation of age-related development of the ability to deceive was conducted from the perspective of Relational Frame Theory, which, unlike the traditional approach, Theory of Mind, has been used to analyze deception in terms of the complexity of the relational responding involved. A derived relational responding—based protocol was used to compare the deception-taking skills of five different age groups. Results indicated that performances on the tasks improved as a function of age, supporting the current concept of deception as a learned relationally complex behavioral pattern. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for the mainstream developmental literature on deception.


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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louise McHugh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yvonne Barnes-Holmes
    • 2
  • Dermot Barnes-Holmes
    • 2
  • Ian Stewart
    • 3
  • Simon Dymond
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WalesSwanseaUK
  2. 2.National University of IrelandMaynoothIreland
  3. 3.National University of IrelandGalwayIreland
  4. 4.University of WalesSwanseaUK

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