The literal meaning of self-deception is deceiving or lying to oneself. Two approaches to studying self-deception exist. An interpersonal approach constructs self-deception as the result of an arms race between deception and the detection of deception. Self-deception is the optimal form of deception by which to effectively deceive others without leaking cues for detection. An intrapersonal approach regards self-deception as a stable trait representing unrealistically positive self-evaluation. This trait helps maintain subjective well-being, a high self-concept, and low levels of anxiety. Both children and adults self-deceive when they attempt to deceive others (interpersonal self-deception) or to enhance their self-concepts (intrapersonal self-deception). Comparisons between children and adults can elucidate the mechanisms of self-deception. This entry first discusses interpersonal self-deception through two psychological processes (selective attention and ...

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