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Acta Psychologica Sinica    2019, Vol. 51 Issue (12) : 1330-1340     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2019.01330
Reports of Empirical Studies |
The effect of cognitive vagueness and motivation on conscious and unconscious self-deception
ZHONG Luojin1,RU Taotao2,FAN Meng3,MO Lei4()
1 School of Professional Development and Research on Primary and Secondary Education, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
2 Lab of Light and Physio-psychological Health, National Center for International Research on Green Optoelectronics, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510006, China
3 The Center of Student Career Service, Guangdong University of Technology, Guangzhou 510006, China
4 School of Psychology, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
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Academia has a long discussion of self-deception. Self-deception provides fertile ground for research in biology, philosophy, and psychology. Philosophers theoretically discuss the possibility and conditions of the existence of self-deception. Biologists study the applicability of the self-deception from the evolutionary perspective. Psychologists want to provide empirical evidence for the existence of self-deception. Nevertheless, the presentation of self-deception remains controversial. Therefore, an empirical study of self-deception with direct evidence is required to tackle the existence of self-deception. A large number of studies have investigated the existence of self-deception. The results showed that motivation, external or internal, and cognitive vagueness are the triggers of the existence of self-deception. However, it remains unknown whether self-deceived people believe in their own deception interacts with the effect of cognitive vagueness and motivation on self-deception.
In this paper, we investigate whether self-deceived people believe in their own deception influences the self-deception and moderates the effect of cognitive vagueness and motivation on self-deception. We further propose two forms of self-deception: unconscious and conscious self-deception, where those unconscious self-deceived people believe in their own deception while those conscious self-deceived people do not. As cognitive vagueness and motivation have different effects on the two forms of self-deception, we further investigate whether the two forms of self-deception share the same processing mechanisms.
Following the research paradigm of Chance et al. (2011), we investigated the above hypotheses in three experiments. In Experiment 1, we improved the research paradigm used by Chance et al. (2011), and we showed that self-deception could be categorized as conscious self-deception and unconscious self-deception. Experiment 2 showed that cognitive vagueness positively and negatively associated with unconscious and conscious self-deception respectively. Experiment 3 illustrated that motivation increased the conscious self-deception, but had no impact on unconscious self-deception. The diverse effects of motivation and cognitive vagueness on the unconscious and conscious self-deception suggest that two forms of self-deception are driven by different processing mechanisms.

Keywords self-deception      conscious      motivation      cognitive vagueness     
:  B848  
Corresponding Authors: Lei MO     E-mail:
Issue Date: 21 October 2019
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ZHONG Luojin, RU Taotao, FAN Meng, MO Lei. The effect of cognitive vagueness and motivation on conscious and unconscious self-deception[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica,2019, 51(12): 1330-1340.
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