WBEZ | childhood http://www.wbez.org/tags/childhood Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Is your 4-year-old a liar? Here's the bright side. http://www.wbez.org/news/your-4-year-old-liar-heres-bright-side-113586 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/pinocchio.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res453915304"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Pinocchio." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/02/istock_000046167734_small-9bf9156361e4ab59fce9707445b0349d9f2291a4-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Pinocchio. (Piermichele Malucchi/iStockphoto)" /></div><div><div>Most parents bewail the inevitable occurrence of lying in their kids, but the emergence of deception in childhood may actually signal the development of something pretty wonderful: an ability to understand other people&#39;s beliefs as distinct from one&#39;s own.</div></div></div><p>This ability is part of what psychologists call &quot;<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_mind">theory of mind</a>,&quot; and a new&nbsp;<a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0956797615604628">paper</a>&nbsp;finds that improving children&#39;s theory of mind abilities can turn honest 3-year-olds into strategic liars. That might not sound like a positive outcome, but it tells us something important about how theory of mind affects social behavior.</p><p>Before getting into the details, consider what a typical 3-year-old child does &mdash; and doesn&#39;t &mdash; already understand about other people&#39;s minds. By 18 months, children typically know that other people can have preferences that depart from their own. For example, in a&nbsp;<a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.33.1.12">study</a>&nbsp;by Betty Repacholi and Alison Gopnik, young children saw an adult express a preference for broccoli over goldfish crackers. When the adult then asked for some of the food, 18-month-olds &mdash; but not 14-month-olds &mdash; handed over the broccoli, even though the child&#39;s own preference was presumably for the crackers. You can see a short demonstration of the experimental procedure here:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GkYQg0l5bMY?rel=0" width="420"></iframe></p><p>It isn&#39;t until age 4 or 5, though, that most children can pass the &quot;false belief task,&quot; which is taken to reflect an understanding that other people&#39;s&nbsp;beliefs&nbsp;can depart from their own. In a&nbsp;<a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0010-0277(83)90004-5">classic</a>&nbsp;version of this task, developed by Heinz Winner and Josef Perner, most 3-year-old children fail to appreciate that a character will expect an object to be where she last saw it, not where the child knows it to actually be. You can see a variant on a false belief task here:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RibbgbQ6wbk?rel=0" width="420"></iframe></p><p>Understanding that other people&#39;s beliefs can depart from one&#39;s own is a prerequisite for a host of sophisticated judgments and behaviors &mdash; not only moral judgments, as demonstrated at the end of the video above, but also for&nbsp;deception. Consider the task illustrated below, in which a child must deceive &quot;Mean Monkey&quot; to get the stickers he actually wants (watch minutes 7:12 to 10:04):</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LAfk4M0nC3M?rel=0" width="420"></iframe></p><p>The strategic element here is transparent to adults: The child need only lie to Mean Monkey about the sticker he really wants, and Mean Monkey will choose the wrong sticker, leaving the child his first choice. Yet time after time, younger children fail to lie. This doesn&#39;t stem from an overwhelming desire to be good, but &mdash; at least in part &mdash; from a failure to appreciate that another&#39;s beliefs can diverge from reality and from one&#39;s own.</p><p>At least, that&#39;s what researchers had assumed. But it&#39;s hard to demonstrate a causal link between theory of mind and a behavior like telling lies &mdash; both emerge spontaneously in development and both are influenced by a variety of factors. Finding that one ability typically precedes the other, or that the abilities are correlated across children, is suggestive but ultimately falls short of demonstrating a causal connection.</p><p>That&#39;s where new research by Xiao Pan Ding and colleagues comes in. In a new&nbsp;<a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0956797615604628">paper</a>published in the journal&nbsp;Psychological Science, the researchers report a study in which 3-year-old children were randomly assigned to one of two groups: a theory-of-mind training condition or a control group. In the theory-of-mind training condition, children participated in six sessions involving different theory of mind tasks, including versions of the false belief task described above. In the control group, children also participated in six sessions of training on developmentally appropriate tasks, but they weren&#39;t related to theory of mind.</p><p>By the end of the training, the children who received theory-of-mind training significantly outperformed their peers in the control condition on tasks that assessed theory of mind, like the false belief task above. They were also significantly more likely to lie.</p><p>To assess children&#39;s ability and propensity to lie, the children in the experiment completed a variant on the Mean Monkey task demonstrated above. They first played a simple game with the experimenter: The experimenter hid a candy in one of two cups and the child had to guess which cup contained the candy. If the child guessed correctly, the child could keep the candy. If the child guessed incorrectly, the experimenter could keep the candy. Having learned these basic rules, the child and the experimenter switched roles: The child now hid the candy and the experimenter had to choose a cup. If the experimenter chose correctly, the experimenter could keep the candy. If the experimenter guessed incorrectly, the child could keep the candy.</p><p>The experimenter dutifully closed her eyes while the child hid the candy but before choosing a cup, she asked the child: &quot;Where did you hide the candy?&quot;</p><p>To get the candy for himself, the child had only to lie &mdash; to mislead the experimenter into choosing the wrong cup. But on day one of the experiment, before undergoing any training, that&#39;s not what children did. Every 3-year-old who participated in the study instead told the experimenter the truth and the experimenter went on to select the cup with the candy, much to the child&#39;s dismay. Each child played the game with the experiments&nbsp;nine more times&nbsp;that day and, each time, the 3-year-old told the truth about where the candy was hidden, no matter that each time, the experimenter went on to select that cup. The 3-year-olds were unable or unwilling to strategically lie.</p><p>But two weeks later, after completing the theory-of-mind training or the control training, children had an opportunity to face off once again against the experimenter in the hiding game. And this time, the children who had completed the theory-of-mind training lied more than half the time. On average, they lied in about 6 of the 10 rounds of the game, whereas those in the control group lied in fewer than 2 of the 10 rounds. The theory-of-mind training paid off &mdash; not only on theory-of-mind tasks but also in strategic deception.</p><p>Turning children into liars may not seem like a laudable achievement, but it tells us something important about the relationship between theory of mind abilities and deception. Specifically, the design of the experiment supports a claim that goes beyond correlation: that a basic theory of mind is a prerequisite to verbal deception. Moreover, the findings support the broader idea that our understanding of our own and other people&#39;s minds has a causal impact on our social (or antisocial, as the case may be) behavior.</p><p>Of course, you&#39;re not so likely to cheer when you first find yourself the target of a lie, especially from your own child. Developing the&nbsp;ability&nbsp;to deceive is one thing; understanding whether and when it&#39;s appropriate is another &mdash; and that&#39;s likely to take quite a bit more than six sessions of training to work out.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2015/11/02/453730157/is-your-4-year-old-a-liar-heres-the-bright-side?ft=nprml&amp;f=453730157" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 02 Nov 2015 10:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/your-4-year-old-liar-heres-bright-side-113586 Small wonders http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-01/small-wonders-104730 <p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.2947838980291547">On Friday, while perusing Facebook, I saw that my friend </span><a href="http://www.zulkey.com/2010/08/1_what_was_the_last.php">Bex Schwartz</a> had posted this photo from her childhood with the caption &ldquo;This photo from when I was three explains a lot:&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bex.jpg" title="" /></div><p>Something about that photo rang a bell for me. It wasn&rsquo;t the bangs or the couch or the baby brother (although those were recognizable to me, too). It was those Underoos. Was it possible that I wore the same underpants as did a friend of mine (whom I&rsquo;ve never met in person) and who lives 800 miles away? I did a little search through my parents&rsquo; slides on Flickr and realized that I too was rocking Wonder Woman Underoos in my youth:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-01-06%20at%203.54.19%20PM.png" title="" /></div><p>I&rsquo;d all but forgotten about those Underoos. What a funny coincidence. Was it possible that Bex and I were just sisters from another mister, or were there more of us secret Wonder Women from across the country? We put out a call on Facebook and Twitter and quickly found that we were not alone:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Carrie.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Deb.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/JenStacey.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Nellie.jpg" title="" /></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Rusty.jpg" title="" /></div></div><p><em>Thanks to Carrie, Deb, Jen and Stacey, Nellie and Rusty for those pics.</em><br /><br />Obviously, something about those superheroine-themed underpants must have been meaningful to all of us girls, or else we wouldn&rsquo;t have posed for photos in them. Look at how proud we all are, as we should have been, because we were incredibly awesome. Little did our parents know when buying us those red, blue and gold undergarments that they were raising a secret generation of incognito superhero girls. (Or maybe they did!) I had all but forgotten that I was once Wonder Woman. But now I&rsquo;m glad that I was, and that I was not alone.<br /><br />We want to find more of you out there. Bex and I have started a Tumblr called <a href="http://smallwonderoos.tumblr.com/">Small Wonderoos</a> collecting these old photos. If you are a member of the sisterhood, please check us out and <a href="http://smallwonderoos.tumblr.com/submit">submit your own</a>. And think about how wonderful we all are.</p></p> Mon, 07 Jan 2013 09:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-01/small-wonders-104730 List: Names of my brother Jack's seven imaginary friends from his childhood http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-10/list-names-my-brother-jacks-seven-imaginary-friends-his-childhood-103134 <p><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP95103101809.jpg" style="height: 362px; width: 620px; " title="(AP)" /></div></div><ol><li>Jack</li><li>Jack</li><li>Jack</li><li>Jack</li><li>Jack</li><li>Jack</li><li>Seven</li></ol><p><em>Meanwhile, we are still rounding up unflattering baby photos. Check out what I&#39;m talking about and submit yours <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-10/ugly-pictures-cute-babies-part-1-103014">here</a>!</em></p></p> Tue, 16 Oct 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-10/list-names-my-brother-jacks-seven-imaginary-friends-his-childhood-103134 Clever Apes #23: First memories http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-12-13/clever-apes-23-first-memories-94877 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-December/2011-12-13/Gabe trike for web.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="Each time we recall a childhood memory, we're rewriting it. (WBEZ/Gabriel Spitze" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-13/Gabe trike for web SMALL.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 442px; float: left; margin: 10px;" title="Each time we recall a childhood memory, we're rewriting it. (WBEZ/Gabriel Spitzer)">I’m sitting at a picnic table in our screened-in porch. It’s my third birthday party, and I’m opening presents. I unwrap a Tonka truck, and drop to the floor to start playing with it.</p><p>That’s been my earliest memory ever since I can, well, remember. But as the years wore on, something weird started happening. I started to feel less attached to the person in that memory. Now, I feel like I’m seeing the memory through someone else’s eyes, watching myself push that truck on the green astroturf carpet. I’m not even sure it’s a real memory anymore.</p><p>This has been on my mind because my own son recently had his third birthday. It got me wondering what his first memory will be, and more broadly, what is the nature of early memories? How reliable might they be, and how important to the construction of our identities?</p><p>On the latest installment of Clever Apes, we dig into what science has to say about early memory. Young kids actually have lots of memories that don’t make it into long-term storage. The phenomenon, called <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-child-in-time/201012/the-shifting-boundary-childhood-amnesia">“childhood amnesia,” </a>is not very well understood. But it seems to have something to do with the lens through which we see the world, and how it changes from early childhood (say, age three) to the more verbal period starting around age five or six. It’s tough to bridge that divide, and that may explain why I’m having a hard time connecting with my three-year old self.</p><p>And there’s another reason: memories are made from networks of neurons in our brains. That wiring gets used for lots of things, and so with each new memory, the networks change a little. When we remember something, we effectively rewrite it. That means that in some sense, each time we reflect on a memory, we’re putting a little more distance between ourselves and the actual event. Recent research suggests we’re even doing this in our sleep.</p><p>It’s enough to give a fellow a dose of existential distress. But there’s an upside too: A Chicago researcher has demonstrated <a href="http://www.luc.edu/childrensmemory/elaborative_conversation.shtml">ways that parents can reinforce and help solidify a child’s memories. </a>If you listen to the show, you can hear me trying this out on my son, Ezra. I bribed him with M&amp;Ms to get him to sit still.</p><p>Watch this space in the next day or so for a collection of first memories from our colleagues here at WBEZ. You can also get it via <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CleverApesPodcast">podcast</a>. We’re on <a href="http://twitter.com/cleverapes">Twitter </a>and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Apes-on-WBEZ/118246851551412">Facebook</a>, too.</p></p> Tue, 13 Dec 2011 23:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-12-13/clever-apes-23-first-memories-94877