Making sense of self-deception: distinguishing self-deception from delusion, moral licensing, cognitive dissonance and other self-distortions

Elias L. Khalil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


There has been no systematic study in the literature of how self-deception differs from other kinds of self-distortion. For example, the term ‘cognitive dissonance’ has been used in some cases as a rag-bag term for all kinds of self-distortion. To address this, a narrow definition is given: self-deception involves injecting a given set of facts with an erroneous fact to make an ex ante suboptimal decision seem as if it were ex ante optimal. Given this narrow definition, this paper delineates self-deception from deception as well as from other kinds of self-distortions such as delusion, moral licensing, cognitive dissonance, manipulation, and introspective illusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-563
Number of pages25
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017

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