NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ876045
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-May
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0277
Self-Deception Requires Vagueness
Sloman, Steven A.; Fernbach, Philip M.; Hagmayer, York
Cognition, v115 n2 p268-281 May 2010
The paper sets out to reveal conditions enabling diagnostic self-deception, people's tendency to deceive themselves about the diagnostic value of their own actions. We characterize different types of self-deception in terms of the distinction between intervention and observation in causal reasoning. One type arises when people intervene but choose to view their actions as observations in order to find support for a self-serving diagnosis. We hypothesized that such self-deception depends on imprecision in the environment that allows leeway to represent one's own actions as either observations or interventions. Four experiments tested this idea using a dot-tracking task. Participants were told to go as quickly as they could and that going fast indicated either above-average or below-average intelligence. Precision was manipulated by varying the vagueness in feedback about performance. As predicted, self-deception was observed only when feedback on the task used vague terms rather than precise values. The diagnosticity of the feedback did not matter. (Contains 12 figures.)
Elsevier. 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, FL 32887-4800. Tel: 877-839-7126; Tel: 407-345-4020; Fax: 407-363-1354; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A