Now... Do you lie?
And be honest.
Well, occasionally, perhaps, you might say.
A little lie here and there to a partner, parent, or friend... but who do you lie to the most?
Chances are it's to yourself... because you are a master of self-deception.
We tell ourselves it's okay to eat banana cake everyday, that our occasional mishaps are not really our fault, that the job we didn't get wasn't good after all.
We're trying to convince ourselves.
The best lie is an honest lie.
But this tricky skill could be holding us back from seeing with clarity.
How can we identify when we are deceiving ourselves and stop lying?
This is the second episode of my Field Guide to Bad Behaviour.
Let's take a journey into the wild to spot elusive behaviours and discuss how to manage or avoid them.
Self-deception can be incredibly hard to spot.
To find it you have to travel to the deepest corners of the human mind The most prominent signs to look for include: bias during gathering information, selectively recalling information, and faulty reasoning.
In the human colonies, each individual strives for building a public image that helps maintain their status or even climb the hierarchy.
When a fact stands in the way of their desire image, individuals use self-deception to make that fact vanish.
When self-deception ravages a human colony without control, it hinders productive debates.
It's extremely difficult to argue with someone who propagates a false view based on biased information and lies when they're convinced they're right.
There are some ideas about the origins of self-deception.
Some think it evolved to help us better persuade others.
In a 2017 study, researchers asked 300 participants to write a convincing letter about a man named Mark.
The more convincing the letter, the larger bonus they would get.
Some participants were told to put Mark in a positive light, and others were told to present him as unlikable.
The participants then watched short movies about Mark that progressively revealed either positive or negative information about him.
People tended to stop watching the videos as soon as they had enough information to make their case and ignored the full picture.
And this made their letters more convincing, because they unequivocally believed their argument.
Similarly, self-deception can work to persuade others about us.
It might have evolved as a strategy to protect the self from negative information, inflate one's good qualities and basically make you and everyone else feel better about you.
Studies have shown others do perceive us in the way we project ourselves.
For example, overconfident people are perceived as more competent.
In other words, self-deception is the original fake it until you make it.
So you might ask, if we're deceiving ourselves to improve our lives or to persuade others of our competence...what's the harm in that?
One obvious problem is that too much self-deception may backfire if something in the future shatters the picture you've built, ruining your reputation.
Another problem is that the positive effects of believing in yourself might wear off.
In another 2017 study, researchers tracked Australian boys in high school for two years.
They found although overconfident individuals were more popular, they didn't end up happier nor did they perform better than their more realistic peers.
Self-deception masks truths about yourself that are helpful to know if you want to improve.
So perhaps, it's best to focus less on believing in yourself, and instead aim to know thyself!
Here are three simple steps: When assigning an attribute to yourself, ask, is this who you are?
Or who you want to become?
When looking for information to build your argument, also try to find information that disproves your argument When assigning blame to others for a bad situation you're in, ask yourself, is there something you could do to help your situation?
The human psyche is an elusive labyrinth, where deceptive shadows at every turn mask your path.
But the tools introspection and logic can light up the way ahead and lead you to the truth about yourself.
So please be sure to use them.
Until next time.