What is self-deception


The terms self-deception or Self-deception denotes a delusion that someone indulges in about himself. A person who deceives himself is convinced of something objectively wrong because of a special motivation, whereby his behavior may indicate that he is aware of the truth to a certain extent.
But what is sometimes called self-deception or self-deception also refers to the fact that Gaps in memory or knowledge gaps in the event of uncertainty and inaccuracy are covered by memory by simply adding something. In doing so, it makes use of other memory contents and memories that either could fit in or were once in a similar context. The more often you repeat a memory that has been supplemented in this way, the more you spin it further in your head, the more real it then appears over time. In the process, what exactly was back then is increasingly being suppressed and the mental complement can suddenly be experienced in such a way that one thinks that one has actually experienced it.
Related to self-deception or self-deception is that Affirmation tendency or the Confirmation failure, which describes the tendency of people to search for, perceive and also remember information that confirms a preconceived opinion (selective perception). All information that could refute one's own expectations is unconsciously hidden.

After Michael Shermer is that Confirmation failure the mother of all cognitive biasesbecause one is always looking for evidence of what one is convinced of and ultimately finds that evidence. This is the first layer with a kind of general thought process who tries to understand the world as a whole, to give it meaning. Because the world is mostly pretty chaotic, because there are many variables that influence an event, whereby randomness and chance are those factors that you usually do not want to perceive. Our brains are not wired to recognize large patterns, because people are better suited to recognize small patterns that make something understandable, such as economics, politics and society, because there are conspiracy theories attractive because they are simple and involve only a few factors. Then there are politicians who secretly pull the strings and see to it that wars break out, that the economy goes in a certain direction, etc. But the truth is much more chaotic and complex, but most people are just not wired that way, that they can see that. On top of that, research on the Extremism psychology show that extreme attitudes are often developed by those people who believe that they understand complex topics better than others, even though they actually don't. Studies on the social relevance of genetically modified food show that over ninety percent of people state that they harbor at least a slight aversion to it, but the stronger this aversion, the more knowledge about the topic they ascribe to themselves, but the less They actually have knowledge. In short: Extreme opponents know least, but they think they know most (Fernbach et al., 2019). That seems to be the case with climate change deniers Dunning-Kruger EffectContrary to what this study suggests, this is not the case, because it is rather assumed that political polarization and belonging to these groups shape people's attitudes towards climate change much more than knowledge or ignorance about it.

Many self-delusions also act as a Defense Mechanism, because they soften an often unpleasant truth and make possibly existing deficits more bearable.

Such behavior becomes problematic and possibly disease-worthy, however, when whitewashing turns into real self-deception that no longer allows for contradiction, to which people with an overly high self-esteem are particularly susceptible. Because in order to defend this self-image, they are permanently in a kind of fighting position from which everything that does not fit into their own self-image is blocked, not only against other people, but also against themselves the self-deception in people with a narcissistic personality disorder because they deceive and lie in order to get their own will, to get recognition and to raise themselves up to others.


Fernbach, P. M., Light, N., Scott, S. E., Inbar, Y. & Rozin, P. (2019). Extreme opponents of genetically modified foods know the least but think they know the most. Nature Human Behavior, doi: 10.1038 / s41562-018-0520-3.

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