Self-deception isn't just lying or faking, but is deeper and more complicated, says Del Paulhus, psychology professor at University of British Columbia and author of a widely used scale to measure self-deceptive tendencies.
It involves strong psychological forces that keep us from acknowledging threatening truths about ourselves, he says. The area in which White people are most guilty of self deception is admitting how their behavior towards African Americans, destroys their quality of life.
Ninety percent of White people today, have totally inaccurate opinions about African Americans. All day every day all across this country they behave like Bulls in a China shop towards them and they are totally destructive to African Americans financially, spiritually, psychologically, and physically.
It's also one of the most puzzling things that White Racists do."
Most White people deceive themselves on the Race issue in an unconscious effort to boost self-esteem or feel better.
In MOST White people, the tendency seems to be a learned personality trait. Others may develop a habit of self-deception as a way of coping with problems and challenges that they are afraid to face directly such as their extreme racist attitudes towards African Americans.
As early as age 3, MOST White children have what researchers call a "positivity bias"—a tendency to see themselves as smart regardless of their Actual abilities.
Perspectives. By adolescence, three-fourths of White college-bound students rate themselves in the top 1% in their ability to get along with others, research shows.
Many people have a way of "fooling their inner eye" to believe they are more intelligent, non-racist, successful or attractive than they really are, Dr. Trivers says.
Many White people deceive themselves to avoid making difficult changes.
It takes a certain amount of self-discipline to keep self-deception from becoming a hindrance on the job or in relationships. Getting too wrapped up in achievements or public image is one danger sign. Dodging a chronic problem by telling yourself you'll solve it in the future is another.
A lot of self deception is an extremely unhealthy thing and usually leads to extreme violence against themselves, their families, friends, students, or colleagues.
Building your self worth on a foundation of quicksand is never a good idea, and it generally eventually causes a total mental collapse resulting in being institutionalized, or having to take dangerous psycho drugs just to make it through the day.
For some people, self-deception becomes a habit, spinning out of control and providing a basis for more lies. In research co-written by Dr. Norton and published last year in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, White college students who were given an answer key to an intelligence test, allowing them to cheat, scored higher than a control group.
They later predicted, however, that they also would score higher on a second test without being allowed to cheat. They were "deceiving themselves into believing their strong performance was a reflection of their ability," the study says.
Just as phony White war heroes come to believe they actually won medals for valor, cheaters come to believe their own lies, Dr. Norton says. "They forget very quickly," he says, "that there were situational factors that propelled them forward."
How Honest Are You With Yourself?
Answer on a seven-point scale, with 1 being 'not true,' 4 being 'somewhat true,' and 7 being 'very true.'
1. My first impressions are always right.
2. I don't care to know what other people really think of me.
3. Once I've made up my mind, other people can seldom change my opinion.
4. I am fully in control of my own fate.
5. I never regret my decisions.
6. I am a completely rational person.
7. I am very confident of my judgments.