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Sneaky babies learn to lie before they learn to talk: study

 Babies aren’t as innocent as they look, according to new research out of the United Kingdom.    Sweet little infants actually learn to deceive before they can talk, says University of Portsmouth psychology department head Vasudevi Reddy in a study that challenges traditional notions of innocence while confirming many parents’ suspicions about their sneaky babies.    Most psychologists have believed children cannot really lie until about four years of age.    But after dozens of interviews with parents, and years spent observing children, Reddy has determined infants as young as seven months are quite skilled at pulling the wool over their parents’ eyes.    Rather than being a sign that your child is the next James Frey or Richard Nixon, Reddy says, baby lies are simply part of learning social interaction.    Long before children can understand complex ideas about truth and deception, Reddy writes in the April issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, “they are engaging in subtle manipulations of their own and others’ actions, which succeed in deceiving others at least temporarily.”    There was the 11-month-old who, caught in the act of reaching for the forbidden soil of a house plant, quickly turned his outstretched hand into a wave, his mother reported to Reddy, “as though he was saying, ‘Oh, I wasn’t really going to touch the soil, Mom, I was waving at you.’”    Babies also seem to think they are masters of the Jedi mind trick, using steady eye contact as a distraction technique.    Another 11-month-old, upon being presented with toast she didn’t want to eat, would hold eye contact with her mother while discreetly chucking the toast onto the floor.    “She’s very sneaky,” the mother told Reddy, “she thinks you can’t see it.”

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