Philosophical Psychology 9 (4):525 – 544 (1996)
AbstractIn a well-known paper “Illusion and well-being”, Taylor and Brown maintain that positive illusions about the self play a significant role in the maintenance of mental health, as well as in the ability to maintain caring inter-personal relations and a sense of well-being. These illusions include unrealistically positive self-evaluations, exaggerated perceptions of personal control, and unrealistic optimism about one's future. Accurate self-knowledge, they maintain, is not an indispensable ingredient of mental health and well-being. Two lines of criticism are directed against the creative self-deception hypothesis, one methodological and one substantive. First, it is argued that Taylor and Brown's method of eliciting experimental subjects' self-reports and comparative self-ratings under artificial experimental conditions lacks ecological validity and phenomenological realism. Second, it is argued that positive illusions diminish the range of reactive other-regarding attitudes and emotions that people can adopt. A literary case history (Ibsen's The wild duck ) which satisfies the criteria of ecological adequacy is used to illustrate the latter point.
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References found in this work
Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity.Charles Taylor - 1989 - Harvard University Press.
Telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes.Richard E. Nisbett & Timothy D. Wilson - 1977 - Psychological Review 84 (3):231-59.
Varieties of Moral Personality: Ethics and Psychological Realism.Owen FLANAGAN - 1991 - Harvard University Press.