Self-Deception Won't Make You Happy

Social Theory and Practice 35 (1):107-132 (2009)

Neil Van Leeuwen
Georgia State University
I argue here that self-deception is not conducive to happiness. There is a long train of thought in social psychology that seems to say that it is, but proper understanding of the data does not yield this conclusion. Illusion must be distinguished from mere imagining. Self-deception must be distinguished from self-inflation bias and from self-fulfilling belief. Once these distinctions are in place, the case for self-deception falls apart. Furthermore, by yielding false beliefs, self-deception undermines desire satisfaction. Finally, I argue for the positive view that *honest imagining* can yield the psychological benefits that others have claimed for self-deception.
Keywords self-deception  happiness  depression  Shelley Taylor  honest imagining  illusions
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