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Researcher seeks to discover how babies and toddlers learn to deceive

(1 Post)
Shem7 Wed 05-Aug-15 15:03:24

Researcher seeks to discover how babies and toddlers learn to deceive

A new research project is being launched today to find out how babies and toddlers learn to deceive, from birth to 47 months.

Dr Elena Hoicka at the University of Sheffield is seeking to discover how early forms of deception, such as hiding things so others can’t find them, might link to later stages of deception, like fabricating stories.

Parents across the world are invited to participate in a study by completing the Early Deception Survey online at during the month of August.

The survey asks questions about what types of deception children understand and produce, such as denying things they’ve done (like eating their brother’s chocolate bar) or to make people feel better (like saying they love a gift they really hate).

It only takes around 20 minutes to register and complete the survey.

The study is inclusive, so Dr Hoicka wants to hear from parents of all types of children, including children with typical development, as well as children with any other pattern of development, such as Down’s syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Parents of children who do not yet understand deception, such as newborns, are also invited to participate, as the team are keen to know when children do not yet have this skill.

At the end of the survey parents will receive a summary of the number of different types of deception their child understands and produces.

This is the first survey to examine how deception develops in very young children, and will shed light on a significant aspect of development.

Dr Hoicka said: “On the surface, deception might not be the favourite childhood achievement of parents. However it’s an important milestone in development, showing that children can successfully navigate the social world, and revealing that children are becoming better at thinking skills too.

“Yet we know virtually nothing about how deception develops before the age of 3 years, so it is very important to find out what kinds of deception children are exposed to early on, and to learn about their early attempts at deception.

“Without having a fuller understanding of how deception develops, it makes it difficult to know what to expect, and when children may be having difficulties.It is really important for parents of children from birth to preschool age to help us answer these critical questions about the early development of deception.”

Notes to editors:

The University of Sheffield
With almost 26,000 of the brightest students from around 120 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

In 2014 it was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education and in the last decade has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.
Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

For further information, please visit

For further information please contact: Shemina Davis, Media Relations Manager, on 0114 2225339 or email

To read other news releases about the University of Sheffield, visit

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