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Children of divorce are more likely to lie and cheat after learning it from their parents

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Children of divorce are more likely to lie and cheat after learning it from their parents, researchers claim

  • Children of divorced parents almost twice as likely to cheat, researchers claim 
  • This is because they have been exposed to ‘manipulative behavior’ at young age 
  • Youngsters ‘may also feel they deserve compensation for their misfortune’ 

Children of divorced parents are more likely to lie and cheat because they are exposed to manipulative behaviour at an early age, according to a study.

Researchers asked 793 kindergarten pupils aged between five and six to flip a coin in a small area enclosed by a curtain, with one side of the coin black and the other white.

The child was told that if the outcome was white they would receive sweets as a reward, but would get nothing if it was black.

Children of divorced parents are almost twice as likely to cheat, researchers claim

Children of divorced parents are almost twice as likely to cheat, researchers claim 

They found that 32 per cent of children of non-divorced parents who had a chance to cheat took advantage of it compared to 56 per cent of those with divorced parents. 

The authors wrote: ‘Children of divorced parents are more likely to be exposed to manipulative behaviour of one parent towards the other and to internalise that lying is acceptable if it helps promote their interests.

‘Also, children of divorced parents often feel hurt and guilty in causing their parents’ separation and lying helps them run away from the bitterness of reality to a less painful imaginary world.

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‘They may also feel they deserve compensation for their misfortune, such as the promised sweets in our experiment.’ 

Scientists believe children either observed manipulative behavior from their parents or feel they need to be rewarded for their pains (file)

Scientists believe children either observed manipulative behavior from their parents or feel they need to be rewarded for their pains (file)

The paper, published in the Journal Of Economic Behaviour and Organisation, also claimed that psychological counselling helps improve honesty among children of divorced parents but fails to do so among children of non-divorced parents.

The authors argue that supportive counselling could effectively treat the causes of lying in children of divorced parents by restoring their self-esteem and alleviating their fear of abandonment.

Last year the number of divorce cases coming before UK courts saw its biggest increase for 15 years with 118,141 petitions in 2018.

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