Skip to main content

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.

Hide All
Bodner, R. & Prelec, D. (2003) Self-signaling in a neo-Calvinist model of everyday decision making. In: Psychology of economic decisions, vol. I, ed. Brocas, I. & Carillo, J.. Oxford University Press.
Elster, J. (1999) Alchemies of the mind: Rationality and the emotions. Cambridge University Press.
Funkhouser, E. (2005) Do the self-deceived get what they want? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 86:295312.
Grafen, A. (1990) Biological signals as handicaps. Journal of Theoretical Biology 144:517–46.
McKay, R. T. & Dennett, D. C. (2009) The evolution of misbelief. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32(6):493561.
Mijović-Prelec, D. & Prelec, D. (2010) Self-deception as self-signaling: A model and experimental evidence. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 365(1538):227–40.
Quattrone, G. & Tversky, A. (1984) Causal versus diagnostic contingencies: On self-deception and on the voter's illusion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 46:237–48.
Russell, B. (2009) Unpopular Essays. Routledge.
Shapiro, D. (1996) On the psychology of self-deception – truth-telling, lying and self-deception. Social Research 63:785800.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed