Autistic children are not good at covering up their lies: study

Oct 08, 2010

Children with autism will tell white lies to protect other people's feelings and they are not very good at covering up their lies, according to a Queen's University study.

The study, conducted by psychology professor Beth Kelley and PhD student Annie Li, is one of the first scientific studies of lying and autism.

"The results are surprising because there is a notion that with autism have difficulty appreciating the thoughts and feelings of other people, so we didn't expect them to lie to avoid saying things that may hurt others," says Dr. Kelley.

In one test, children with autism were told they were going to get a great gift, and were then handed a bar of soap. When asked if they liked their gift, most nodded or said yes instead of saying they were disappointed to get soap.

Researchers refer to this as pro-social lies told to maintain good relations with others.

In a second test, children were given audio clues and asked to guess a hidden object. Most guessed the easy clues, a chicken when they heard a chicken clucking — but an intentionally difficult clue (Christmas music and an Elmo doll) – was used as a test for lying.

After the Christmas music was played, the tester left the room. The tester returned and asked the children if they had peeked at the object. Both autistic and non- autistic children were equally likely to lie that they had not peeked. But when asked what they thought the object was, children without realized giving the correct answer would reveal they peeked so they were more likely to lie and say "Santa" or "Christmas tree."

Explore further: MSF fighting cholera outbreak in Tanzania refugee camps

More information: The study has been accepted for publication to Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Related Stories

No link found between autism and celiac disease

May 01, 2007

Contrary to previous studies, autistic children are no more likely than other children to have celiac disease, according to new research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 59th Annual Meeting ...

Study: Fever may ease autism for a while

Dec 24, 2007

Anecdotes about fevers triggering "normal" behavior in autistic children now have a scientific study to back them, researchers in Baltimore report.

Epilepsy drug may increase risk of autism in children

Dec 01, 2008

A new study shows that women who take the epilepsy drug valproate while pregnant may significantly increase their child's risk of developing autism. The preliminary research is published in the December 2, 2008, print issue ...

Children with autistic traits remain undiagnosed

Mar 22, 2010

There has been a major increase in the incidence of autism over the last twenty years. While people have differing opinions as to why this is (environment, vaccines, mother's age, better diagnostic practice, more awareness ...

Laughter Differs In Children With Autism

Jul 10, 2009

According to a recent paper entitled "Laughter Differs in Children with Autism: An Acoustic Analysis of Laughter Produced by Children with and without the Disorder" in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, childr ...

Recommended for you

MSF fighting cholera outbreak in Tanzania refugee camps

13 hours ago

Medical charity Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) said Sunday it had launched emergency treatment centres in Tanzania, where thousands of Burundians fleeing unrest have been hit by cholera.

Bacteria blamed in indigenous Mexican baby deaths

May 23, 2015

Bacteria—and not a contaminated vaccine as initially suspected—were to blame for the recent deaths of two Mexican babies and for sickening 29 others, according to an official investigation.

Explainer: What is Chagas disease?

May 22, 2015

According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), in a Los Angeles clinic treating patients with heart failure, about 20% of Latin American patients have Chagas disease. What is that?, y ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.