36-month-olds conceal visual and auditory information from others

Alicia P. Melis*, Josep Call, Michael Tomasello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

By three years of age, children are skilled at assessing under which circumstances others can see things. However, nothing is known about whether they can use this knowledge to guide their own deceptive behaviour. Here we investigated 3-year-olds' ability to strategically inhibit or conceal forbidden actions that a nearby adult experimenter could see or hear. In the first experiment, children were more likely to disobey the adult when she did not have visual access to their activities than they were when she was looking at them. In the second experiment, in which the adult could never see the child, children refrained from making noise when engaging in a prohibited action that the adult might hear. These results suggest that by three years of age children use their knowledge of others' perceptual states to decide whether it is safe to commit a transgression and, moreover, actively conceal perceptual cues that could reveal to others their ongoing transgression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-489
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental Science
Volume13
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2010

Keywords

  • PARENTS KNOWLEDGE STATE
  • YOUNG-CHILDREN
  • VERBAL DECEPTION
  • MIND
  • BEHAVIOR
  • SENSITIVITY
  • 3-YEAR-OLDS
  • 2-YEAR-OLD
  • PERCEPTION
  • ATTENTION

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