Living a Lie: We Deceive Ourselves to Better Deceive Others

New research provides the first evidence for a theory first put forward in the 1970s

Matthew Hutson | April 4, 2017

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/living-a-lie-we-deceive-ourselves-to-better-deceive-others/

Pre-Reading:

Videos:

  • Honest liars — the psychology of self-deception: Cortney Warren at TEDxUNLV

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpEeSa6zBTE&t=1s

  • Why Do We Deceive Ourselves?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfybu_KJGo4

 

Questions:

  1. Read the account of Trivers’ experiment to the end (paragraph two through four) and answer the following question:
    • What was the implication of the study?
      • We deceive others to make profit from a situation.
      • We deceive ourselves to make profit from a situation.
      • We deceive ourselves to better deceive others.
      • We deceive others to better deceive ourselves
  1. Complete the table based on the sections dealing with the idea of “self-enhancement,”
Hypotheses Refutations
  Feeling good has no bearing on survival or reproduction.
Self-enhancement boosts our motivation.  
  No Refutation

 

  1. Although the study by von Hippel couldn`t find a positive correlation between self-enhancement and ………………or ………………, it suggests that self-enhancement would be a predictor of ………………. . However, intellectual self-enhancement may not serve this purpose among …………………
  2. There are some suggestions about why Trivers’ theory wasn’t examined empirically. Mark the odd one out.
    • As the Trivers was the man of theories, he didn`t feel obliged to test his theory.
    • His theory was not well-known in the world of psychology.
    • Most psychologists thought that the theory was not worthy of investigation.
    • Most psychologists saw self-esteem or motivation as reason enough for self-enhancement to evolve.
  3. Complete the following dialogue :Mercier: I don`t believe that …………………………. can be seen as self-deception because it`s not as though there is one part of us deliberately fooling another part of us.

Von Hippel: You are wrong my friend because this is a tool that works. For example, you tend to make yourself believe in something to convince others if ………………………………………………………………………… . Also if someone is trying to convince you of something you can use this tool to think about …………………………………………………. .

 

Answers:

  1. Answer: Third one.

 

Hypotheses Refutations
We evolved to overestimate our good qualities because it makes us feel good. Feeling good has no bearing on survival or reproduction.
Self-enhancement boosts our motivation. If the motivation were the goal, then we would have just evolved to be better motivated, without the cost of reality distortion.
Self-deception evolved for the purpose of other-deception. No Refutation
  1. Mental health/athletic or academic performance/popularity. Teenagers.
  2. Third one.
  3. Motivated biases

Your career or social success depends on persuasion/what may be motivating this person to convince you.

 

Post-reading:

Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mlTOOT7TjY

https://youtu.be/Yz_DZvPzXAw?t=6m17s

Artciles:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/05/joseph-t-hallinan-self-deception_n_5411224.html

https://www.truthaboutdeception.com/lying-and-deception/self-deception/advantages.html

https://www.truthaboutdeception.com/lying-and-deception/self-deception/disadvantages.html

 

Writing Task:

After watching the videos and reading the articles, please write an essay in which you discuss the advantages and disadvantages of self-deception. Can self-deception help us gain a social edge on others? Can it cause others to believe that we have higher social status? Can it make us improve our actual performance?  What would happen if we deceive ourselves too much?

 

You can also write a cause and effect essay with the help of the materials. Think about why we deceive ourselves according to the articles and what happens when we, deliberately or not, do it.

YADYOK Assistants
Sinan Çakmak
Kaan Gökçe

 

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