SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — It’s a lesson many parents pass to their children: do not lie. But new research from Texas State University said kids are getting mixed messages about telling the truth.

The study published Tuesday in The Journal of Moral Education found adults are more likely to harshly judge children who are bluntly honest compared to more polite children who bend the truth.

Researchers followed 267 American adults watching videos of 24 children, ages 6 to 15, telling the truth or lying in various social situations. 

According to a press release from Texas State, the children told four variations of “blunt” or “subtle” lies or truths.

For example, a child was asked about the location of a sister who was hiding. The “blunt lie” was “she went to the library to do homework.” The subtle truth was “I think she might be outside.” The subtle lie was “I think she might have gone to bed or something.” And the blunt truth was “she’s under the porch.”

The adults rated their impression of the child’s character and how likely they would be to punish or reward the child.

“This research tends to show there exists a complicated relationship with the truth that children must navigate to learn what is socially acceptable,” explained lead author Dr. Laure Brimbal from the TXST School of Criminal Justice & Criminology.

“Most parents will have been embarrassed or upset by their children’s brutal honesty at some point. Learning to tell lies is a normal part of children’s social development.”