Thanks to the work of Brock University developmental psychologist Angela Evans, we now know that lying in children starts as young as two, and it only gets worse from there.
Her research has linked this lie-telling to the development of children’s thinking, specifically how children understand their own thoughts and the thoughts of others, and how they co-ordinate several mental activities at once.
Evans is one of 14 researchers at Brock awarded $1.3 million in Insight and Insight Development Grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). In addition, 18 Brock University students were awarded $670,000 in SSHRC student grants.
With her Insight Grant, Evans aims to expand on her research into deception at the other end of the lifespan and construct a theoretical model of how honesty develops from childhood to older adulthood. She will explore the nature, context and motivations of older adult lie-telling behaviours, and how changes such as declines in executive functioning affect honesty.
“Aging is not simply development in reverse,” says Evans, Associate Professor of Psychology, noting that “very little research” has been done on deception in older adulthood.
“Understanding developmental changes in our moral evaluations of lie-telling and lie-telling behaviours provides new insight into mechanisms influencing moral development, which can help tell us how and why deceptive behaviours change across the lifespan,” she says.
Preliminary research has shown that older adults are less likely to lie than younger adults, says Evans. She will examine whether this is consistent across different types of lies — such as those told to protect others’ feelings or lies to conceal health issues.
“Findings from my research can be used to help create programs for older adults around how (dis)honesty might be impacting their social relationships,” says Evans, adding that the research will also help those who work with older adults to better understand what motivates them to be dishonest.
Brock Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon says federal government investment is vital for research that makes a difference in society.
“With this funding from SSHRC, our researchers are conducting leading-edge studies that will give insights into language learning, regional economic re-invention, the prevention of animal cruelty and barriers to climate change mitigation, among other issues in today’s rapidly-changing world,” he says.
The latest round of Insight Grant recipients includes:
- Charles Conteh, Faculty of Social Sciences, “Local and regional economic re-invention in an age of industrial restructuring”
- Kendra Coulter, Faculty of Social Sciences, “An examination of public investment in animal cruelty investigation work”
- Christine Daigle, Faculty of Humanities, “Rethinking the human: posthuman vulnerability and its ethical potential”
- Adam Dickinson, Faculty of Humanities, “Metabolic poetics”
- Veena Dwivedi, Faculty of Social Sciences, “The role of individual differences in motivation and emotion in language comprehension”
- Angela Evans, Faculty of Social Sciences, “Developmental changes in (dis)honesty: building a lifespan developmental model of deception”
- Leah Knight, Faculty of Humanities, “Transforming writing and reading women in early modern England: new forms of representation”
- Trevor Norris, Faculty of Education, “Education, democracy, and the public good: neutrality, freedom of speech, and the teaching of controversial issues in philosophy classrooms”
Insight Development Grant recipients are:
- Jessica Blythe, Faculty of Social Sciences, “The role of virtual scenarios in realizing ocean transformations”
- Raymond Chiu, Goodman School of Business, “Assessing refugee claims on religious grounds: An integration of law, psychology, and religion”
- Andrew Dickens, Faculty of Social Sciences, “Couch potato or social Butterfly? The impact of television content on social capital”
- Hijin Park, Faculty of Social Sciences, “International students and violence in Canada: A structural analysis of the experiences of non-white international students in a medium-sized city and university”
- Gary Pickering, Faculty of Mathematics and Science, “Lifestyle choices and climate change mitigation: an assessment of knowledge and other barriers amongst youth”
- Sabrina Thai, Faculty of Social Sciences, “Implicit bias in the wild: Building smartphone tools to explore implicit bias in daily life”
SSHRC’s Insight Grants program provides funding for three to five years for research that accomplishes a number of goals, including building knowledge and understanding, supporting new approaches to research and providing training experiences for students.
The Insight Development Grants program support research in its initial stages, enabling the development of new research questions and experimentation with new methods, theoretical approaches and/or ideas.