Current Research Projects

Parenting By Lying

"You better come with me now, or I will leave you in the store alone!" Parenting by lying is the act of using instrumental lying to manipulate children's emotional states or behaviours. It is a highly common practise around the world, but the implications of this behaviour are largely unknown. Our research examines both the long- and short-term implications of parenting by lying on social and emotional development.

Prosocial Lying

Telling lies is largely considered to be an unwanted and negative behaviour. From a young age, children are taught the value of honesty and that telling lies is wrong. However, children also learn that telling a prosocial or "white" lie is sometimes necessary to foster amicable social relations and telling the truth is not always socially appropriate. For example, after receiving an undesirable gift, children are often taught to pretend that they like the gift instead of bluntly telling the gift-giver they don't like it. My research examines the development of prosocial lying among school-aged children.

Lying as a Conduct Problem

Lying is a typical part of childhood. However, for some children, lying becomes problematic and atypical with age. Frequent and persistent antisocial lying is an early indicator of conduct disorder, but our knowledge of why these children tell frequent antisocial lies is very limited. Our research examines this important research question, as well as examines prosocial lying in this population.

Facial Expressions While Lying

To tell a successful lie, one must control their verbal and nonverbal behaviours in such a manner that they don't give away the fact that they are lying. But what are the nonverbal markers of childhood deception? Our research examines this important question using state-of-the-art computer vision technology to automatically code facial expressions.


Zanette, S., Hagi Hussein, S., Malloy, L. C. (2023). Adult's veracity judgements of Black and White children's statements: The role of perceiver and target race and prejudice-related concerns. Frontiers in Psychology, 14:1177253.

Liu, X., Shang, S., Zanette, S., Zhang, Y., Qingzoum, S., & Sai, L. (2022). An experimental investigation of association between children's lying and behavior problems. Frontiers in Psychology, 13:982012. 

Jackson, R., Ekerim Akbulut, M., Zanette, S., Selcuk, B., & Lee, K. (2021). Parenting by lying in Turkey: Experience in childhood and negative outcomes in adulthood. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 8:202. 

Zanette, S., Walsh, M., Augimeri, L., & Lee, K. (2020). Differences and similarities in lying frequency, moral judgements, and beliefs about lying among children with and without conduct problems. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 192:104768.

Bruer, K. C., Zanette, S., Ding, X., Lyon, T. D., & Lee, K. (2020). Identifying liars through the automatic decoding of children's facial expressions. Child Development, 91(4), e995-e1011.

Santos, R. M., Zanette, S., Kwok, S. M., Heyman, G. D., & Lee, K. (2017). Exposure to parenting by lying in childhood: Associations with negative outcomes in adulthood. Frontiers in Psychology. 8:1240.

Santos, R. M., Zanette, S., Kwok, S. M., Heyman, G. D., & Lee, K. (2017). Corrigendum: Exposure to parenting by lying in childhood: Associations with negative outcomes in adulthood. Frontiers in Psychology, 8:1900, 1-3.

Zanette, S., Gao, X., Brunet, M., & Lee, K. (2016). Automated decoding of facial expressions reveals marked differences in children when telling antisocial versus prosocial lies. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 150, 165-179.

Adachi, P. J. C., Hodson, G., Willoughby, T., & Zanette, S. (2015). Brothers and sisters in arms: Intergroup cooperation in a violent shooter game can reduce intergroup prejudice. Psychology of Violence, 5, 455-462.