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Description: Starting from around 3 years of age, children tell prosocial lies for politeness purposes (Talwar, Murphy, & Lee, 2007). To understand the motivation underlying this behavior, Warneken and Orlins (2015) assessed whether children would lie prosocially out of habitual politeness, or whether they would do so in order to improve the mood of their social partners. Children told prosocial lies selectively toward a sad, as compared to a neutral partner, with this effect being more pronounced with age. This finding has been interpreted such that children tell prosocial lies to make others feel better, with older children showing a stronger effect because of their greater sensitivity toward the artist’s emotional state (Warneken & Orlins, 2015; Ceci, Burd, & Helm, 2015). To test the causal validity of this claim, the current study aims at investigating the potential role of empathy in actuating young children’s prosocial lie-telling. Empathy has long been discussed as a developmental driver of prosocial behavior more generally (Eisenberg & Miller, 1987), as it has been found to motivate individuals to help others in distress (McDonald & Messinger, 2011). While some empirical studies have linked children's empathy and their prosociality (i.e., Roberts & Strayer, 1996; Knafo, Zahn-Waxler, Van Hulle, Robinson, & Rhee, 2008), a causal link between both phenomena has to this date only been documented among adults (Xu, Chen, & Li 2019; Lupoli et al., 2017) To do so, we aim to test whether fostering young children's empathy (i.e., by modelling it within a short-time intervention) affects children’s tendency to tell prosocial lies to third parties. Doing so, we introduce a novel interactive paradigm for assessing and inducing young children’s empathy and link children's performance to established proxies for children's prosocial lie-telling behaviors (Warneken & Orlins, 2015).


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