Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 299–312 | Cite as

Parents’ Attitudes about and Socialization of Honesty and Dishonesty in Typically-Developing Children and Children with Disruptive Behavior Disorders

  • Lindsay C. MalloyEmail author
  • Allison P. Mugno
  • Daniel A. Waschbusch
  • William E. PelhamJr
  • Victoria Talwar


Although parents are significant sources of socialization in children’s lives including with respect to their moral behavior, very little research has focused on how parents socialize children’s honesty and dishonesty, especially parents of atypically developing children for whom lying is of substantial concern. We surveyed 49 parents of typically-developing (TD) children (Mage = 7.49, SD = 1.54) and 47 parents of children who had been diagnosed with a disruptive behavior disorder (DBD; Mage = 7.64, SD = 1.39) regarding their beliefs and attitudes about honesty and dishonesty, including in response to hypothetical vignettes; their messages to their children about honesty and dishonesty (e.g., punishment); and their own lying behavior and perceptions of their child’s lying behavior. Results revealed that, in comparison to parents of TD children, parents of children with DBD reported (a) more punitive reactions to children’s lying behavior, including in response to the hypothetical vignettes, (b) less encouragement of dishonesty among their children, and (3) perceiving their children as more prolific and sophisticated liars. Findings shed light on potential sources of individual differences in children’s lie telling and may have implications for interventions for children with DBD and their parents.


Lying Deception Parenting Socialization Disruptive behavior disorders 



We wish to thank the following students who assisted with data collection and coding: Melisa Alonso, Erika Barrios, Christina Borgan, Amy Castro, Melissa Cruz, Jacqueline Gener, Alis Hernandez, Marilaura Maldonado, Gabriel Mejias, Elizabeth Miguel, Francis Pepe, Karina Perez, Jennifer Sandoval, Andrea Sardi, Kiara Taquechel, and Daniella Villalba. Preparation for this article was supported in part by intramural funds from the Center for Children and Families at Florida International University. We are grateful to Elizabeth Gnagy and Dr. Erika Coles for facilitating data collection and the parents who participated in the research.

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 and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology & Center for Children and FamiliesFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Pennsylvania State University Milton S. Hershey Medical CenterHersheyUSA
  3. 3.McGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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