The Advantage Of Self Deception
People deceive themselves consistently in their everyday lives in order to protect their psychology and mental health. Furthermore, self-deception may provide several advantages to people. Peters states, “Having positive illusions about what you can do and how well you will do is more common and healthy than most people think”(Peters, 1990, p. 1). Peters also reinforces this statement by adding, “A study shows that non-depressed people typically see themselves with a rosy glow and they underestimate how often others judge them negatively”(Peters, 1990, p. 1). Based on this information it may be supported that self-deception has positive effects on people. Although some authorities support that self-deception has negative effects and it may create harmful consequences for people, self-deception, in fact, is beneficial for people because it creates a defense mechanism which helps people to protect their psychology and motivates them for challenges in life. Therefore, self-deception should be an aspect of peoples’ everyday lives.
Emotionally healthy people deceive themselves in their everyday lives in order to avoid depression. On the other hand, depressed people, who are struggling with psychological problems, focus more on reality and negative sides of a situation. According to Peters, there is a number of studies which show that emotionally healthy people consistently convert reality in order to protect themselves from hurtful truths which may cause harm to their psychology(Peters, 1990). For instance, Taylor states, “In one study, cancer patients who deceived themselves into thinking their prognoses were better than they actually were fared better emotionally(Quoted in Peters, 1990, p. 1). According to Taylor, the optimistic behavior that cancer patients have shown was a way of seeing their circumstances in the best possible way, so that they would become emotionally healthier(Quoted in Peters, 1990). Based on this information, it may be deduced that people who deceive themselves by interpreting reality in the purpose of protecting their psychology, are emotionally healthier. Besides, there may be found brief examples of how self-deception is beneficial for human psychology, in a set of studies. In one of the studies, participants are given a chance to cheat on an exam by looking at the answerkey(Chance, 2015). While it is expected from participants to cheat, subjects convinced themselves not to cheat by thinking they can also have satisfying results without cheating, and by thinking their performance on future exams because they believed that if they cheat on the first exam, they were going to struggle at future exams(Chance, 2015). From this statement, it may be concluded that it is beneficial for people to deceive themselves in most cases. On the other hand, depressed people usually focus on the reality or negative sides of a situation. For instance, Peters states, “Depressed people assess their strong and weak points and recall negative criticisms from others more realistically”(Peters, 1990, p. 1). Peters reinforces his statement by adding that there is a strong relationship between being depressed and being realistic. Based on this information, it is reasonable to conclude that people who deceive themselves are healthier than people who are more realistic.
Self-deception is considered as a useful way for people to protect their psychology and there is a number of ways which people use to deceive themselves. For instance, people create positive illusions by denying the truth if they are trying to overcome the problems they have. Peters states, “ When coping with a painful loss, death, separation or rejection or a diagnosis of a disease short term denial is a healthy part of coping”(Peters, 1990, p. 1). Additionally, people deceive themselves by being selective in their perception. According to Taylor, people are tended to focus on positive changes resulting from the situation(Peters, 1990). Peters adds, ”More than 90 percent of cancer patients studied reported a willingness to put more effort into their relationships and feelings of being stronger, more self-assured and more compassionate”(Peters, 1990, p. 2). People also deceive themselves by changing the circumstances in the direction of their personal advantages. According to McCain, if a task creates a challenging environment and anxious feelings, people, who are emotionally healthy consider it as exciting(Peters, 1990). By doing that, they protect themselves from the negative effects of harmful feelings(Peters, 1990). Based on this information it may be concluded that self-deception has significant positive effects on people’s psychology in several cases as it protects people from hurtful truths.
Some authorities such as Warren supports that self-deception is dangerous as it may create significantly harmful consequences for peoples’ lives. Warren states, “Self-deception leads to massive amounts of pain and regret(Warren, 2014, p. 3). Warren also give brief examples about negative effects of self-deception, “I will only have one glass of wine tonight, when I know I’m drinking at least three”(Warren, 2014, p. 2). A self-deception which leads a person to drink more. Warren adds, “I never have sexual thoughts with anyone except my spouse, because that wouldn’t be acceptable”(Warren, 2014, p. 2). Therefore, people justify their behaviors by deceiving themselves. Another example Warren gives, “I know smoking is not good for my health, but it helps me relax”(Warren, 2014, p. 2). People deceive themselves in this way which may create health issues for them. Based on this information, it is supported that self-deception has many negative effects on people and therefore people should stop deceiving themselves. However, even in some cases, self-deception has negative effects on people, considering it as a harmful way of thinking may not be correct because emotionally healthy people use self-deception as a defense mechanism which protects their psychology. Zane states, “Seeing yourself and your life with a rosy aura fosters mental health(Quoted in Peters, 1990, p. 3). Zane reinforces this statement by adding that emotionally healthy people, who use self-deception to protect their psychology, are more successful because they have a positive approach which motivates them for challenges in life(Peters, 1990). Based on this information, it is reasonable to conclude that even self-deception may cause harm to people emotionally, it usually helps people to protect their psychology and it motivates them for several challenges in life.
All in all, there are some authorities who support that self-deception has significant disadvantages and negative effects on people. However, in fact, people deceive themselves by using self-deception as a defense mechanism in order to protect their psychology and as a motivation for further achievements. Therefore, self-deception has several positive effects on people and it is more beneficial than it is harmful to people.
- Peters, B. (1990). The benefits of self-deception. The Washington Post. Retrieved from
- Warren, C. (2014, May). Honest liars. TEDxUNLV. [Video file]. Retrieved from
- Chance, Z, and Norton, M. (2015). The what and why of self-deception. Current Opinion in Psychology 6 (December 2015), pp. 104–107.