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Journal: Child development perspectives


Lying is common among adults and a more complex issue in children. In this article, I review two decades of empirical evidence about lying in children from the perspective of speech act theory. Children begin to tell lies in the preschool years for anti- and prosocial purposes, and their tendency to lie changes as a function of age and the type of lies being told. In addition, children’s ability to tell convincing lies improves with age. In the article, I highlight the central roles that children’s understanding of mental states and social conventions play in the development of lying. I also identify areas for research to be done to develop a more comprehensive picture of the typical and atypical developmental courses of verbal deception in children.

Concepts: Scientific method, Empiricism, Developmental psychology, Human development, Empirical research, The Central, Lie, Speech act


Developmental dyslexia is a specific learning disability characterized by deficits reading single words. Dyslexia is heritable and has been associated with neural alterations in regions of the left hemisphere in the brain. Cognitive and neural atypicalities have been observed before children with familial risk for dyslexia begin reading, yet children who are at risk subsequently develop reading abilities on a continuum from good to poor. Of those children who develop good reading skills, what factors are associated with more successful outcomes? In this article, we review findings describing genetic, cognitive, neurobiological, and environmental factors that facilitate reading development and propose a model of neural pathways to support successful reading development in at-risk children. This research can inform educational and clinical strategies to support at-risk children. Investigating factors that contribute to the variance in behavioral outcomes among at-risk children may help us understand developmental disorders and associated etiological, compensatory, and protective factors.


This paper reviews research examining the effect of bilingualism on children’s cognitive development, and in particular, executive function. Studies reporting bilingual advantages in various tasks are described with the purpose of identifying the process or executive function component that might be responsible for this bilingual advantage. Several possibilities are discussed, such as inhibitory control. Finally, the role of attention is proposed as a fundamental process that initiates developmental differences in bilingual children from as early as infancy.

Concepts: Psychology, Cognitive psychology, Neuroscience, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Developmental psychology, Child development, Working memory


Adolescents are more likely to take risks than children or adults. This propensity can be directed toward negative (illegal and dangerous) or positive (socially acceptable and constructive) risk behaviors. Adolescents who take positive risks include teenagers winning Olympic medals for landing snowboard tricks and students protesting gun violence on a national platform. Yet little is known about the nature of positive risk taking because much of the research on adolescent risk taking has focused on negative risks, such as substance use or delinquency. In this article, we offer a theoretical model of positive risk taking, briefly review research on positive risk taking, and discuss theoretical correlates of positive risk taking based on models of adolescent risk taking. We aim to identify positive risks as a unique class of socially acceptable risks in which youth engage in addition to negative risks.


The authors review research on children’s reading motivation and its relation to their reading comprehension. They begin by discussing work on the development of school motivation in general and reading motivation in particular, reviewing work showing that many children’s reading motivation declines over the school years. Girls tend to have more positive motivation for reading than do boys, and there are ethnic differences in children’s reading motivation. Over the last 15 years researchers have identified in both laboratory and classroom-based research instructional practices that positively impact students' reading motivation and ultimately their reading comprehension. There is a strong need for researchers to build on this work and develop and study in different age groups of children effective classroom-based reading motivation instructional programs for a variety of narrative and informational materials.

Concepts: Research, Educational psychology, Reading comprehension, Age groups in Scouting and Guiding


Health disparities are rooted in childhood and stem from adverse early environments that damage physiologic stress-response systems. Developmental psychobiological models of the effects of chronic stress account for both the negative effects of a stress-response system calibrated to a dangerous and unpredictable environment from a health perspective, and the positive effects of such an adaptively calibrated stress response from a functional perspective. Our research suggests that contexts that produce functionally adapted physiologic responses to stress also encourage a functionally adapted coping response-coping that can result in maladjustment in physical and mental health, but enables children to grow and develop within those contexts. In this article, I highlight the value of reframing maladaptive coping as functional adaptation to understand more completely the development of children’s coping in different contexts, and the value of such a conceptual shift for coping-based theory, research, and intervention.

Concepts: Anxiety, Genetics, Health disparities, Child, Developmental psychology, Stress, Human development, Adaptation


Research on children’s psychological and behavioral development readily incorporates changing biological models and techniques. In this article, we suggest that, in response to increasing evidence of robust influences of prenatal exposures on children’s neurodevelopment and mental and physical health, developmental science also needs to consider the placenta’s role in development. We argue why placental mechanisms are plausible targets in developmental science, and suggest initial and practical steps toward integrating placenta markers and mechanisms into research on child development.


What are young children’s first intuitions about numbers and what role do these play in their later understanding of mathematics? Traditionally, number has been viewed as a culturally derived breakthrough occurring relatively recently in human history that requires years of education to master. Contrary to this view, research in cognitive development indicates that our minds come equipped with a rich and flexible sense of number-the Approximate Number System (ANS). Recently, several major challenges have been mounted to the existence of the ANS and its value as a domain-specific system for representing number. In this article, we review five questions related to the ANS (what, who, why, where, and how) to argue that the ANS is defined by key behavioral and neural signatures, operates independently from nonnumeric dimensions such as time and space, and is used for a variety of functions (including formal mathematics) throughout life. We identify research questions that help elucidate the nature of the ANS and the role it plays in shaping children’s earliest understanding of the world around them.


In this article, I use infants' sensitivity to distributive fairness as a test case to identify the extents and limits of infants' sociomoral cognition and behavior. Infants' sensitivity to distributive fairness is in some ways commensurate with this understanding in older children and adults; infants expect fair distributions of resources and evaluate others based on their adherence to or violation of fairness norms. Yet these sensitivities also differ in important ways, including that infants do not spontaneously punish unfair individuals. I address questions about the role of experience in infants' development of sociomoral cognition and behavior, and whether infants' moral cognition and behavior are differentiated appropriately (from their social knowledge and behavior) and integrated (across subaspects of morality). I suggest two approaches to move the field forward: investigating processes that contribute to developing sociomoral cognition and behavior, and considering infants' successes and failures in this domain.


Early exposure to two languages is widely thought to guarantee successful bilingual development. Contradicting that belief, children in bilingual immigrant families who grow up hearing a heritage language and a majority language from birth often reach school age with low levels of skill in both languages. This outcome cannot be explained fully by influences of socioeconomic status. In this article, I summarize research that helps explain the trajectories of observed dual language growth among children in immigrant families in terms of the amount and quality of their language exposure as well as their own language use.