Episode 35: When children are judged for blunt truths with Laure Brimbal

December 5, 2022

Laure Brimbal
Laure Brimbal

Texas State University’s Laure Brimbal, assistant professor in the School of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Texas State University, joins the Big Ideas TXST podcast to discuss the research that shows children are judged more harshly for telling blunt truths than for lies.

Research published in October by Brimbal suggests children who tell blunt truths such as “I don’t want this present – it’s ugly!” are judged more harshly by adults than those who bend the truth to be polite or protect others. Published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Moral Education, the research demonstrates the mixed messages that adults are giving children about lying versus telling the truth in different contexts.

The study followed 267 adults from the Northeast U.S. being shown videos of children, aged 6 to 15, telling the truth or lying in various social situations. In some scenarios, the 24 different children lied to protect others. Findings showed that the adults judged the blunt truth-tellers more harshly than those who lied or told vague truths, but only when they told lies in order to be polite. When children lied to protect others, telling blunt truths or lies had less of an influence on how adults viewed the child.

Prior to coming to Texas State, Brimbal was a postdoctoral research associate at Iowa State University. She earned her Ph.D. in psychology and law from the Graduate Center, CUNY in 2016. Her research interests lie at the intersection of psychology and the criminal justice system, specifically policing. Her focus is on interviewing and issues such as how to build rapport to overcome resistance and how to use evidence in an interview to improve lie-detection accuracy. She has also examined broader issues of decision-making in investigations, evaluating the effectiveness of training approaches and integrating research and practice.

Further reading:

Children who tell blunt truth, as opposed to lying, are being judged harsher by adults

Inconvenient truth-tellers: Perceptions of children’s blunt honesty


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Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922