Children know when parents are full of it, study finds

Gone are days when children simply took parents at their word and the phrase "Because I said so" was an adequate and sufficient explanation.

A new study from the University of Toronto and Harvard revealed that older children are catching on to their parents’ outrageous claims. 

The study was recently published in Child Development

Researchers wanted to understand the difference in how children explore and react to surprising statements. 

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In the study, 109 children were given three objects: a rock, a piece of sponge-like material and a hacky sack. Children were asked which objects were heavy. 

The children agreed the rock was hard. 

Researchers asked the children how to respond when adults made several different claims about the weight between the rock and the sponge. Researchers found that more of the older children, between 6 and 7 years old, suggested picking up the rock and the sponge to see which object was heavier. The younger children suggested picking up only one of the items to test the claim. 

The study’s authors said the exploratory differences between older children and younger children may come down to motivation. They hypothesize younger children tend to believe what adults tell them. However, older children tend to test claims because they are skeptical of what they’ve been told.

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"Studying how children respond to surprising claims they can test has implications for our understanding of how children resolve uncertainty and how they learn to reason about what they are told," the study’s author Samuel Ronfard said in a statement to FOX Television Stations. 

"These results confirm that children are not passive recipients of information," he continued. "They think about what they are told and when they have doubts they often seek information to confirm what they have been told."

Ronfard said in the future, they hope to further understand how children resolve uncertainty and how they respond to what adults tell them.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.