Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Protesting too much: Self-deception and self-signaling

Ryan McKaya1, Danica Mijović-Preleca2 and Dražen Preleca3

a1 Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham TW20 0EX, United Kingdom. ryantmckay@mac.com http://homepage.mac.com/ryantmckay/

a2 Sloan School and Neuroeconomics Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139. mijovic@mit.edu

a3 Sloan School and Neuroeconomics Center, Department of Economics, and Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139. dprelec@mit.edu

Abstract

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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