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The Correlation Of Parental Strictness And Child Lying

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A class study was conducted to measure the correlation between parental strictness and child lying. We wanted to find whether the stricter a parent is, the more likely it is for a child to lie. We used a survey to measure how strict a parent is using a Strict Parenting Scale. How accepting a person is to lying was measuring using The Revised Lie Acceptability Scale (Oliveira & Levine, 2008) and reasons why people lie, was measured with The Lying in Everyday Situations Scale (Hart, Jones, Terrizzi, & Curtis). We were able to obtain data from 331 participants using this online survey. The data collected with Pearson’s correlation analyses does not support our hypothesis, displaying that there was no relationship between parental strictness and child lying. However, when we split the data by gender, the study found that there was a significant relationship between parental strictness and child lying amongst men.

Parental Strictness and Child Lying

A strict parenting style that lacks comfort and support can be seen as controlling and overprotective. Child development depends on parenting styles, and influences personality and why a child behaves a certain way. The personality of parents can be inflicted onto a child and determine their behavior and cognitive development later on in life (Huver, Otten, DeVries, & Engels, 2010). Children learn from observing their parents and are conformed into behaving based on what is being received on the other end. An authoritative parenting style has been found to be a better influence on child behavior. It contains a balance of maintaining strictness while also, providing love and support (Huver, Engels, Breukelen, & Vries, 2007). If there is a lack of strictness in condoning certain behaviors, a child is more likely to participate in deviant activities (Huver et al., 2007). Strict parents who use techniques such as constantly monitoring a child’s actions and locations can hold back good behaviors in a child rather than enforce them. It is inferred that being overprotective can create negative behaviors in a child and cause them to believe there is a lack of trust within the relationship (Engels, Finkenauer, Kooten, & Dyana, 2006). This type of relationship could be seen in authoritarian parenting styles. (Donaldson, Handren, & Crano, 2016).

Restrictive parents can create tension in relationships with children because it prohibits them from feeling as if they have a sense of freedom. This can later lead to negative outcomes and cause issues in school (Donaldson et al., 2016). A study found that children were less likely to lie and confess if they believed the consequences would not be negative. Children were more likely to lie if they thought it would cause negative feedback from parents. The fear of response will cause children to avoid negative repercussions and try to find many possible ways to get out of it (Chiu, Hong, & Chiu, 2016). Children lie to get out of trouble but when in fact, it creates more issues and hinders the trust in a relationship.

It was found that there originally is a drive to initially tell the truth, but when thinking about repercussions, the urge to tell the truth can be driven away (Rinaldi & Howe, 2012). The fear of what might happen can stop us from telling the truth. Children urge to please adults and often find ways to get rewards. Personal self-interest can prohibit this and prevent telling the truth in some circumstances (Rinaldi & Howe, 2012). A factor related to strictness in parents could be the development of their children’s social relationships (Smith & Rizzo, 2017). As a child ages, most relationships are built outside of the home. It would make sense that a parent would be curious about their whereabouts, control who they are with, and create curfews. Deception is found to be related to the nature of that certain social relationship. There are fewer levels of deception in a pleasurable relationship that contains qualities such as great communication and trust (Smith & Rizzo, 2017).

In some cases, it was found that there were some gender differences in lying. Men were found to lie more to their parents than women. The nature behind lying was also analyzed and concluded that women are more often to tell lies in regards to preventing hurt feelings. Men were more often to tell lies if it involved some sort of personal self-interest (Talwar, Arruda, & Yachison, 2015).

It is unsure the true nature as to why children lie to their parents. We can only analyze a few factors that might be possible reasons as to why they do it. It is not to say that a certain type of parenting causes lying. For example, just because a parent has a permissive parenting style, does not exactly mean that their child will never lie. Due to observations or personal experiences, we wanted to analyze whether there was a correlation between parental strictness and child lying. We wanted to see if one of the reasons kids lie was because their parents were controlling, and if they resorted to lying to escape negative consequences. Our hypothesis was the stricter parents were, the more a child would lie.

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Data from the survey was obtained from 331 participants. Because the material used was an online survey, the participants could have come from various places distributed around the world. The participants were recruited for this online survey using social media, text message, emails, etc. This survey was taken at the participant’s own convenience. The participants took this online survey at their own convenience which lasted approximately 5 minutes in length. The demographics collected in this survey asked age and gender. In order to begin this survey, it was required that the participants had to be over 18 years old. We found that there was a great difference in the number of how many women took this survey than men. When collecting the data, we also found that many participants started the survey but failed to complete it, therefore we were not able to use the unfinished data. There were no incentives given to the participants for completing this survey.


In this study, parental strictness and child lying were measured on 3 scales. All the items in each scale were scored on a 1 through 7 scale with 1 being strongly disagree, and 7 being strongly agree. Parental strictness was measured using 12 questions on a strict parenting scale. This scale measured how strict a participant’s parents were. Lie acceptability was measured using 11 questions with a Revised Lie Acceptability Scale (Oliveira & Levine, 2008) that measured the morality of lying and how the participant feels towards it. How often a participant lies was measured with The Lying in Everyday Situations (LIES) Scale (Hart et al.). Ten questions were asked which determined situations in which the participants think it is necessary to lie.


Participants were directed to an online survey from a posted link onto social media sites, text messages, or emails for participants to take the survey. Because the survey was taken at the participant’s own convenience, it was noted that the information collected from their surveys would be used in a study. Before continuing onto the survey, participants were provided with information regarding what the survey is being used for and the age requirements to take it. It was also noted that the survey was voluntary and provided an idea as to what the topics of the questions were in case it was a sensitive subject for anyone, before continuing on to taking the survey. Some participants failed to complete this survey that lasted about 5 minutes, leaving us unable to use some of the collected data.


Using Pearson correlation analyses, we failed to support our hypothesis. The results revealed no significant relationship between strictness and lies (r(329) =.002, p = .482) or between strictness and lie acceptability (r(329) = .078 , p = .079). We then split the data samples between male and female and still failed to support our hypothesis. There was a significant relationship between strictness and lies in men (r(54) = .266, p = .025) and strictness and lie acceptability in men (r(54) = .033, p = .249). For women, we found that there was no significant relationship between strictness and lies (r(274) = .055, p = .180) and strictness and lie acceptability (r(274) = .024, p = .346).


In this correlation study, we failed to support our hypothesis of the stricter the parents, the more a child lies. We found that there was no correlation between parental strictness and child lying. However, when we divided the data between genders, we found that men tend to lie less with strict parents. These results counteract what Talwar et al. (2015) found that men tend to lie more to their parents than women. Our study found that there was a significant relationship and that they tend to lie less when they have strict parents. Analyzing why there is a difference in gender when it comes to strictness and lying would be the next step towards future research. Finding factors that contribute as to why men lie versus women could possibly help us understand gender differences in this study. We could also look at how frequent they lie and analyze lying in various relationships versus just with parents.

Some limitations would be the great difference in how many women completed the survey versus men. With an equal amount of men in this study, the results could have possibly reflected opposite results than what we found. Another limitation could have possibly been memory. Because the mean age of the participants was 30, some could have forgotten how strict their parents were when they were younger. When taking the survey, participants could have also been dramatic when measuring how strict their parents were on a scale. Everyone has a different idea of what it considered strict and what is not. That small detail could have made our results less accurate.

This study answered our hypothesis whether parental strictness is correlated to lying. Although our hypothesis was incorrect, it helps to raise questions and create more studies on the nature of lying and what factors increases lying, while making it easier for society to tell lies.


  1. Chiu, Su-Lin, Hong, Fu-Yuan, & Chiu, Shao-I. (2016). Undergraduates’ day-to-day lying behaviors: Implications, targets, and psychological characteristics. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 44(8), 1329-1338. doi:
  2. Donaldson, C., Handren, D., & Crano, L. (2016). The enduring impact of parents’ monitoring, warmth, expectancies, and alcohol use on their children’s future binge drinking and arrests: A longitudinal analysis. Prevention Science, 17(5), 606-614. doi: 10.1007/s11121-016-0656-1
  3. Engels, Rutger C. M. E., Finkenauer, Catrin, & Van Kooten, Dyana C. (2006). Lying behavior, family functioning and adjustment in early adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 35(6), 949-958. doi: 10.1007/s10964-006-9082-1
  4. Huver, R., Engels, R., Breukelen, G., & Vries, H. (2007). Parenting style and adolescent smoking cognitions and behaviour. Psychology & Health, 22(5), 575-593. doi:
  5. Hart, C. L., Jones, J. M., Terrizzi, Jr., J. A., & Curtis, D. A. (in press). Development of the lying in everyday situations (LIES) scale. American Journal of Psychology
  6. Huver, Rose M. E., Otten, Roy, De Vries, Hein, & Engels, Rutger C. M. E. (2010). Personality and parenting style in parents of adolescents. Journal of Adolescence, 33(3), 395-402. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2009.07.012
  7. Oliveira, C. M., & Levine, T. R. (2008). Lie Acceptability: A construct and measure. Communication Research Reports, 25(4) , 282-288. doi: 10.1080/08824090802440170
  8. Rinaldi, Christina M., & Howe, Nina. (2012). Mothers’ and fathers’ parenting styles and associations with toddlers’ externalizing, internalizing, and adaptive behaviors. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27(2), 266-273. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2011.08.001
  9. Smith, & Rizzo. (2017). Children’s confession- and lying-related emotion expectancies: Developmental differences and connections to parent-reported confession behavior. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 156, 113-128. doi:
  10. Talwar, Arruda, & Yachison. (2015). The effects of punishment and appeals for honesty on children’s truth-telling behavior. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 130(1), 209-217. doi:

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