Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary
Mele: Real self-deception

If belief is a behavior, what controls it?

George Ainslie a1
a1 Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Coatesville, PA, 19320


“Self-deception” usually occurs when a false belief would be more rewarding than an objective belief in the short run, but less rewarding in the long run. Given hyperbolic discounting of delayed events, people will be motivated in their long-range interest to create self-enforcing rules for testing reality, and in their long-range interest to evade these rules. Self-deception, then, resembles interpersonal deception in being an evasion of rules, but differs in being a product of intertemporal conflict.