This would have been nice to know when you were a child: It seems that grown-ups are not great at telling when kids are being dishonest. A new meta-analysis (that is, a study of studies) examined the results of 45 experiments involving about 8,000 adults and 2,000 children, and found that the adults correctly identified the kids’ lies just 47 percent of the time. “That’s no better than if they just guessed,” notes Science.
People whose jobs involve working with children — teachers, for example — were better than those who don’t work with kids, but only slightly. Parents, too, are not as skilled as they think they are at recognizing a child’s fib, whether the guilty kid in question is theirs or not. The study authors write that they hope their research will lead to future work on “improving lie detection accuracy … in children’s lie-telling abilities,” so let’s hope kids are enjoying their fleeting days of unchecked deception.