Why Teens Lie

Background Information

Most individuals have experienced the lying habit during their teenage stage. 82% of teens admit lying to their parents annually.  The biggest problem with lying is what individuals can do about the issue. The majority of individuals agree that trust and honesty are essential characters in every personal relationship. Despite the vast literature on lying and deceptive communication, little research has sought to answer why teenagers lie. Instead, most literature takes a study on the prevalence of lies, assuming that the reasons for lying are common. Most researches on deception have used experiment methodology strategies. Past researchers have found that all individuals are honest; the only difference is lack of motive. More than 60% of teenagers lie in a ten-minute interval, and lies are more frequent to teenagers who want to make a positive impression.

Statement of the Problem

            The teen behavior of lying is confounding, with almost all the teens accepting they value honesty; many reports lie to their parents about significant issues. Social scientists still believe that respondents under-report their undesirable behavior during interviews. The question that remains for most parents is why their teen children lie to them even when they have set them free with everything.

Statement of the Purpose

            Teens aspire to be better like another person, but they have numerous reasons for lying. Teenagers have secretive reasons for lying to their parents. The study will identify some of the reasons why teenagers lie on most occasions. The research will reveal events where teens agreed with their parents but still lied.

Literature Review

            Most teenagers lie to hide their secretive associations with their friends (Dykstra, 2019). Teenagers protect the associations they have with their friends by simply telling lies. Teenagers find lies as the only way they can maintain harmony with their parents while still having external associations. Teenagers use lying to obtain autonomy from their parents (Levine et al., 2013). Adolescents want to be seen as influential by people around them when at the same time, they feel powerless. Teenagers have the tendency to test the credulity with their friends and parents, which is part of moral growth and learning. The adolescent life stage is a critical stage for teenagers, whereby they discover the world and gain their perspectives about the world. Teenagers find lying as a way to avoid disappointing their parents (Talwar & Lee, 2011).

            Teenagers believe that lying is the best strategy to solve their problems. Teenagers view lies as the best decision to win over unfair restrictions at the time. Teenagers use the lie as a strategy to get out of trouble (Martins & Carvalho, 2013). Adolescents know that lying is morally wrong, unlike children who lack moral knowledge (Xu et al., 2011). Teenagers tell lies for a reason, like getting out of treble with their parents or covering someone they know. The teenagers would rather lie than getting into trouble for their actions.

            Xu et al. (2011) describe how 120 children aged 7 to 11 years old from a Chinese school were used to learn more about teenage lie telling. Two experiments were used to assess children’s analytical knowledge of lies and truth in a polite context. One experiment explored whether children could say prosocial lies, and the other session tested children’s conceptual understanding of lies and truth in a polite environment. The sessions were divided by ten days, and half of the participants received an unfavorable present accompanied by a moral tale, while the other half received the opposite. The authors express that children have a common moral understanding than teenagers and adults. So, when an adolescent or an adult tells a lie to help someone, they know what they are doing is morally wrong (Xu et al., 2011).

According to Talwar & Lee (2011), 84 children aged 3 to 4 years old were used to assess children’s ability to deceive. Half of the kids went to a punishing kindergarten, and the other half went to a non-punishing school. The experimenter walks away from the toy and tells the kids not to look at it. He returns and asks the kids if they peeked at it, and he gets a lot of answers. After a few hours, he poses a follow-up question because it is common for children of this age to find it difficult to uphold a prior lie. According to the journal, the research confirms that children growing up in a punishing atmosphere cultivates the capacity to conceal their transgressions. The child might not leave these delinquent behaviors even in their adolescent years.

The measure of disparity in lie telling between boys and girls is conducted using 112 participants aged 14 to 17 in the article by Martins& Carvalho (2013). In the researcher and an instructor from the school where the adolescents were recruited, these teens were given a questionnaire to complete. The researcher then examines the disparity in lie interpretation between the two genders using content analysis and the chi-square test of freedom. The results of this study showed significant differences in how boys and girls perceive lies. Teenage boys lie more than teenage girls because boys believe lying is important for gains, while girls believe lying is false. According to the report, boys lie to avoid being punished if they say the truth, while girls lie to avoid offending their parents.

There are numerous suggestions outlined by researchers on what motivates an individual, or in this case, kids, to tell a lie. Evans & Lee (2011) mentions that it has been proposed that inhibitory function, cognitive function, and preparation are all linked to the ability to say lies. Inhibitory control, or the capacity to inhibit a response or action when pursuing a different purpose, is thought to be essential for lying, as one must hide the truth while presenting incorrect facts. Working memory, a mental device for temporarily storing and processing information, is thought to be needed for good lying since the specifics of the deception and the true state of things must be completely separated in memory (Evans & Lee, 2011). Eventually, it has been proposed that to effectively say a lie, people must be able to devise a deception strategy. Evans & Lee suggests the activation–decision–construct model. The model is an approach that incorporates the specifications of these cognitive abilities.

            According to Dykstra (2019), the test for lying among teenagers was conducted using a survey tool. The test was divided into two sections, T1 and T2. The first test involved 471 children aged 8 to 14, while the second involved 419 children. Participants were selected by school visits and survey completion after school hours. At T1, participants gave their informed consent, and parents gave their informed consent. Participants who took the survey at T1 were invited to take it again at T2; surveys were taken at the same time of year for each time point. The findings showed that child-parent relationship dishonesty is linked to lower openness, less loyalty, more bad contact, and even relationship termination. Controlling parental styles, according to Dykstra, are a factor in children developing dishonesty.

            According to a report by Levine et al. (2013), a study asked 58 high school students how much they lie in a day, and it was expected that these teenagers would lie more often than prior studies of college students. Following the evidence review, the findings confirmed previous research that adults are less likely to lie than teenagers. According to Levine et al. (2013), more than 90% of people admitted to lying at least once a day, with the majority saying three or more lies a day.

In a politeness scenario, Xu et al (2010) found a connection between moral comprehension of lies and apparent lying habits. Their findings found that as children grew older, they were less critical of others’ lying in politeness circumstances and were more likely to say lies in such circumstances themselves. Two categories of lies are particularly important to children throughout their socialization (Xu et al (2010). One form of lie is said to support oneself at the detriment of others and thus violates moral laws. The other form of lie is told to assist, rather than harm, another person, and is thus socially competent.