Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 101–112 | Cite as

The Right to Do Wrong: Lying to Parents Among Adolescents and Emerging Adults

  • Lene Arnett Jensen
  • Jeffrey Jensen Arnett
  • S. Shirley Feldman
  • Elizabeth Cauffman


In this study, 229 high school students and 261 college students evaluated the acceptability of lying to parents under 19 different circumstances where a person's motive for lying differed. Students also indicated the frequency with which they had lied to their parents about diverse issue such as friends, dates, and money. Results indicated that adolescents and emerging adults quite commonly lied to their parents, and that in part they framed lying to parents as a way to assert the right to autonomy. Emerging adults were less accepting of lying and reported less frequent lying, compared to adolescents. Results also showed the association of sex, personality (self-restraint and tolerance of deviance), and family environment (control and cohesion) upon adolescents' and emerging adults' acceptance of lying to parents and lying behavior.

adolescence emerging adulthood lying child-parent relations 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lene Arnett Jensen
    • 1
  • Jeffrey Jensen Arnett
    • 2
  • S. Shirley Feldman
    • 3
  • Elizabeth Cauffman
    • 4
  1. 1.The Catholic University of AmericaUSA
  2. 2.University of MarylandUSA
  3. 3.Division of Child Psychiatry and BehaviorStanford UniversityUSA
  4. 4.Division of Law & Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute & ClinicUniversity of PittsburghUSA

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