TORONTO, Oct. 25 (UPI) — Corporal punishment, or harsh discipline, results in children who are more effective liars to hide their misbehavior, researchers in Canada said.
Professor Victoria Talwar of McGill University and Professor Kang Lee of the University of Toronto compared two groups of children — one group of 3- and 4-year-olds was enrolled in a private school that used a traditional authoritarian discipline, beating with a stick, slapping of the head and pinching administered publicly for offenses ranging from forgetting a pencil to being disruptive in class.
The second group, also enrolled in a private school, were disciplined with time-outs, scolding and a trip to the principal’s office.
Children were seen individually and asked to play a guessing game with an researcher and then the children were told not to peek at a toy when left alone in a room. Most children peeked at the toy, the researchers said.
When the experimenter asked if they had peeked, nearly all the peekers from the punitive school lied, while about half of those from the non-punitive school lied, the researchers said.
In addition, the study, published in the journal Child Development, found after the initial lie, those who told lies from the punitive school were better able to maintain their deception when answering follow-up questions about the identity of the toy — by deliberately giving an incorrect answer or feigning ignorance.
“One possibility is that the harsh punitive environment heightens children’s motivation to come up with any strategies that will help them survive in that environment,” Lee said in a statement.