A new study has revealed that children with good memories are better liars.
University of Sheffield researchers found a link between verbal memory and covering up lies following a study which investigated the role of working memory in verbal deception amongst children.
The study, which saw six to seven year old children presented with the opportunity to do something they were instructed not to peek at the final answers on the back of a card during a trivia game, showed that the good liars performed better in the verbal working memory test in both processing and recall, compared to the bad liars.
The link between lying and verbal memory is thought to stem from the fact that covering lies involves keeping track of lots of verbal information. As a result, kids who possessed better memories and could keep track of lots of information were able to successfully make and maintain a cover story for their lie.
In contrast, there was no difference in visuo-spatial working scores between good and bad liars. The researchers suspect this is because lying usually doesn’t involve keeping track of images, so visuo-spatial information is less important.
Elena Hoicka said that while parents are usually not too proud when their kids lie, they can at least be pleased to discover that when their children are lying well, it means their children are becoming better at thinking and have good memory skills.
Tracy Alloway, project lead from the University of North Florida, said that this research shows that thought processes, specifically verbal working memory, are important to complex social interactions like lying because the children needed to juggle multiple pieces of information while keeping the researcher’s perspective in mind.
The study is published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.