Temporal view of the costs and benefits of self-deception.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Researchers have documented many cases in which individuals rationalize their regrettable actions. Four experiments examine situations in which people go beyond merely explaining away their misconduct to actively deceiving themselves. We find that those who exploit opportunities to cheat on tests are likely to engage in self-deception, inferring that their elevated performance is a sign of intelligence. This short-term psychological benefit of self-deception, however, can come with longer-term costs: when predicting future performance, participants expect to perform equally well-a lack of awareness that persists even when these inflated expectations prove costly. We show that although people expect to cheat, they do not foresee self-deception, and that factors that reinforce the benefits of cheating enhance self-deception. More broadly, the findings of these experiments offer evidence that debates about the relative costs and benefits of self-deception are informed by adopting a temporal view that assesses the cumulative impact of self-deception over time.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Chance, Z; Norton, MI; Gino, F; Ariely, D

Published Date

  • September 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 108 Suppl 3 /

Start / End Page

  • 15655 - 15659

PubMed ID

  • 21383150

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3176610

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1091-6490

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0027-8424

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1073/pnas.1010658108


  • eng