• Created by: Tia Neary
  • Created on: 11-03-23 22:02


  • background: Kohlberg conducted cross-cultural research to support his theory of moral development, but did not specifically focus on the ‘art of lying’. This research aimed to find out whether lying behaviour is cross-cultural.
  • Aim:To test the effect of culture on children’s moral evaluations of lying and truth telling by comparing the moral judgements of Canadian children and Chinese children.
  • Research method: laboratory experiment which used an independent measures design was used in terms of the ethnicity of the child and the condition they were placed in.
  • Sample: 120 Chinese children: 40 7-year-olds, 40 9-year-olds, and 40 11-year-olds
  • 108 Canadian children: 36 7-year-olds , 40 9-year-olds , 32 11-year-olds
  • The children were randomly assigned to each condition either physical or social
  • The independent variables (IVs) : There were 4
  • Pro-social Behaviour- LIE OR TRUTH TELLING (physical and social stories)
  • Anti-social Behaviour/ LIE OR TRUTH TELLING (physical and social stories)
  • Each participant was tested individually and were first instructed about the meaning of the words and the symbols for rating the deeds and verbal statements on a 7-point rating chart. 
  • Participants were then read either all the four social stories, or all four physical stories. The story’s ‘deed’ section was read first and then they would indicate their rating either verbally, non-verbally or both on the rating chart.
  • They were then read the second section of the story and would then indicate, in the same way, their rating for the character’s verbal statement.
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  • Results
  • The results that were not significant showed that children of both cultures rated the prosocial and antisocial behaviours similarly in truth telling scenarios.
  • The Chinese children rated truth telling less positively and lie telling as more positively in pro-social settings, compared to Canadian children, indicating that the emphasis on modesty in Chinese culture overrides evaluations of lying in pro-social situations.
  • Chinese and Canadian children rated truth telling positively and lie telling negatively in anti-social situations, reflecting the emphasis in both cultures on the distinction between misdeed and truth/lie telling.
  • Overall, negative ratings increased with age, irrespective of culture.
  • Conclusions
  • In the realm of lying and truth telling, a close relationship between socio-cultural practices and moral judgement exists.
  • Specific social and cultural norms have an impact on children’s developing moral judgement, which in turn, are modified by age and experience in a particular culture.
  • Both Chinese and Canadian children show similar moral evaluations of lie telling and truth telling related to antisocial behaviours, this is because across all cultures we have the same view that hurtful behaviours are wrong.
  • The emphasis on self-effacement and modesty in Chinese culture increasingly exerts its impact on Chinese children’s moral judgements, this is because they are brought up to believe that collectivism is a positive attribute that contributes to their cultural society.
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