Self-deception as a weightless mask

Elias Lafi Khalil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Self-deception cuts across the behavior of persons, organizations, and states. Self-deception amounts to wearing a weightless mask: While the wearer is unaware of it, spectators usually recognize it. As soon as the wearer becomes conscious of the weightless mask, self-deception ceases to exist. This gives rise to a paradox: How could it ever be possible for the person to succeed in hiding the weightless mask from his or her own conscious self? To solve the paradox, this paper proposes that self-deception involves “two structural choices”: 1) an agent identifies the optimal decision — but the agent may fail (as a result of temptation) to choose it, which gives rise to self-blame; 2) The agent under focus may choose to invent a misleader (a lie) to make the choice appear “as if” it were optimal in order to avoid self-blame. The quest for a blameless choice makes it possible for the person to succeed in hiding the weightless mask from the conscious self. Aside from solving the Self-Deception Paradox, the proposed two-structural choice theory sheds light on three kinds of self-deception: red herring, self-rationalization, and denial.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalFacta Universitatis Series: Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology and History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • rational choice
  • self-blame
  • temptations
  • image-management
  • just world hypothesis

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