College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Fall 11-20-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Sheila Krogh-Jespersen, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Pablo Gomez, Ph.D.


This study examined children’s nuanced understanding of prosocial liars and self-serving liars across the following three areas: children’s willingness to learn information from liars, their judgments of liars through their friend preferences, and their visual attention to liars. As children develop theory of mind skills, they learn they can manipulate other’s knowledge states by telling lies. They also evaluate lying based on whether the liar has self-serving or prosocial intentions, with the former judged more negatively and the latter judged more positively. Based on research findings indicating that children demonstrate selective trust in informants based on their previous accuracy or reliability, the current study aimed to discern whether children (ages 4-11 years old) base their willingness to learn novel information on their evaluations of deceptive informants with sensitivity to the informants’ intentions. Results suggest that as children age and increase in moral theory of mind, they increasingly trust information from a prosocial lying informant compared to a neutral informant, and appear to trust information from a self-serving lying informant marginally less than a neutral informant. Further, regardless of intentions of the lying informant, children tend to avoid choosing the lying informant as a friend. Some differences in visual attention are also discussed. Overall, this research indicates that children may have a more nuanced understanding of the intentions of deceptive informants that becomes more pronounced with age, yet children still prefer to have friends who do not lie.

SLP Collection


Included in

Psychology Commons