British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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The effects of self‐ and other‐awareness on Chinese children's truth‐telling

Several honesty promotion techniques have been established for children living in Western cultures; however, limited research has examined the effectiveness of these techniques among non‐Western children. Recently, inducing self‐awareness (by looking at oneself in a mirror) was found to be effective in promoting young Western children's honesty. The present investigation compared the effectiveness of this self‐awareness technique to a novel other‐awareness technique (looking at a photograph of a peer) in promoting young Chinese children's honesty. Chinese children aged 3 and 4 years (= 121) completed a modified temptation resistance paradigm where they were requested not to peek at a toy in the experimenter's absence. Children were randomly assigned to a Self‐Awareness, Peer (other‐awareness), or Control condition. When asked whether they peeked at the toy, children in the Self‐Awareness condition were significantly more likely to tell the truth compared to those in the Control condition. No significant differences in truth‐telling emerged between the Peer and Control conditions. The present results demonstrate the cross‐cultural application of self‐awareness as an honesty promoting technique with young children.

What is already known on this subject?

  • High rates of dishonesty persist across cultures.
  • Social and cultural values can shape lie‐telling behaviours.
  • Inducing self‐awareness promotes honesty in Western children.

What does this study add?

  • A tool for promoting honesty in non‐Western cultures.
  • Inducing self‐awareness promotes honesty in Chinese children.
  • Inducing other‐awareness was not effective in promoting honesty in Chinese children.

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