Childrens' application of a verbal-nonverbal consistency principle to infer truth and lying
Master of Arts
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Research supports the conclusion that adults/adolescents employ a verbal-nonverbal consistency principle to determine whether others are telling the truth as opposed to lying (Friedman, 1978; DePaulo & Rosenthal, 1979). The verbal-nonverbal consistency rule specifies that an individual is perceived as telling the truth, as opposed to lying, when there is consistency in the affect exhibited between his/her verbal and nonverbal communication. In the study, kindergarten, second and fourth grade children were presented a) a set of specific verbal communications and b) a set of general verbal communications. After each verbal communication they were asked to indicate what facial expression the speaker would show if he/she was telling the truth and lying. It was found that use of the verbal -nonverbal consistency principle increased as a function of age. Fourth grade children showed the verbal-nonverbal consistency principle for both specific and general verbal communications by selecting facial expressions that matched the valence of the verbal communication for telling the truth and the facial expressions that do not match the valence of the verbal communication for lying.