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Protesting too much: Self-deception and self-signaling

  • Ryan McKay (a1), Danica Mijović-Prelec (a2) and Dražen Prelec (a3)

Von Hippel & Trivers (VH&T) propose that self-deception has evolved to facilitate the deception of others. However, they ignore the subjective moral costs of deception and the crucial issue of credibility in self-deceptive speech. A self-signaling interpretation can account for the ritualistic quality of some self-deceptive affirmations and for the often-noted gap between what self-deceivers say and what they truly believe.

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E. Funkhouser (2005) Do the self-deceived get what they want? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 86:295312.

A. Grafen (1990) Biological signals as handicaps. Journal of Theoretical Biology 144:517–46.

R. T. McKay & D. C. Dennett (2009) The evolution of misbelief. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32(6):493561.

D. Mijović-Prelec & D. Prelec (2010) Self-deception as self-signaling: A model and experimental evidence. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 365(1538):227–40.

G. Quattrone & A. Tversky (1984) Causal versus diagnostic contingencies: On self-deception and on the voter's illusion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 46:237–48.

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Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
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