One reason (one that most people are probably already aware of, at least intuitively) for adults not to model lying to children.
A new experiment is the first to show a connection between adult dishonesty and children’s behavior, with kids who have been lied to more likely to cheat and then to lie to cover up the transgression.
Not a big surprise, is it. Children take their cues from adults. Where else are they going to take them? Goldfish? They learn what to do from people who are older than they are.
So there’s one of those lab experiments, which seems fine as far as it goes but not necessarily all that relevant to more natural kinds of relationships.
The study was not designed to get at the reasons that children are more likely to lie when they have been lied to, but to demonstrate that the phenomenon can occur, Carver said.
What happens when trusted care-givers do the lying also remains an open research question. But Carver and Hays are still urging restraint. Even if it’s expedient for an adult to lie — to get cooperation through deception, for example, or to get children to control their emotions — it’s probably a bad idea in the long run.
That would include religion. Of course hardly anyone will take it that way, but it would. It would include all kinds of claims framed as certain when they’re not even close to certain.
H/t Dan Fincke.