Lie-Telling Behavior in Children With Autism and Its Relation to False-Belief Understanding Academic Article uri icon

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  • Children’s lie-telling behavior and its relation to false-belief understanding was examined in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD; n = 26) and a comparison group of typically developing children ( n = 27). Participants were assessed using a temptation resistance paradigm, in which children were told not to peek at a forbidden toy while left alone in a room and were later asked if they peeked. Overall, 77% of the total sample peeked at the toy, with no significant difference between the ASD and typically developing groups. Whereas 96% of the typically developing control children lied about peeking, significantly fewer children with ASD (72%) lied. Children with ASD were poorer at maintaining their lies than the control group. Liars had higher false-belief scores than truth-tellers. These findings have implications for understanding how theory of mind deficits may limit the ability of children with ASD to purposefully deceive others.


  • Talwar, Victoria
  • Zwaigenbaum, Lonnie
  • Goulden, Keith J
  • Manji, Shazeen
  • Loomes, Carly
  • Rasmussen, Carmen

publication date

  • June 2012