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Volume 7 Issue 2 (July 1998), Pages no-no, 143-272

Family Background in Relation to Deceptive Ability and Understanding of the Mind (pages 181-197)

The purpose of this study was to determine whether social factors might be linked with the development of certain aspects of deception. Fifty‐seven children aged between 4 and 5 years were assessed for their ability to be convincing in an act of deception (expressive deception) and also for their understanding that minds are susceptible to deception (theory of mind). The mothers of 34 of the children completed a questionnaire which provided information on socio‐economic status, parenting style, parental stress and family structure. The results revealed significant associations with family background and deceptive ability. Stepwise multiple regression analyses, controlling for age, identified socio‐economic status as a predictor of understanding that the mind is susceptible to deception (theory of mind). In contrast, single parent stress emerged as the major predictor of variance in expressive deception. Deceptive socialisation practices specific to single parents were considered. Implications for the dissimilar developmental pathways of theory of mind and expressive performance in deception are discussed.

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