Are self-deceivers enhancing positive affect or denying negative affect? Toward an understanding of implicit affective processes

Cognition and Emotion 23 (1):152-180 (2009)
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Self-deception is an important construct in social, personality, and clinical literatures. Although historical and clinical views of self-deception have regarded it as defensive in nature and operation, modern views of this individual difference variable instead highlight its apparent benefits to subjective mental health. The present four studies reinforce the latter view by showing that self-deception predicts positive priming effects, but not negative priming effects, in reaction time tasks sensitive to individual differences in affective priming. In all studies, individuals higher in self-deception displayed stronger positive priming effects, defined in terms of facilitation with two positive stimuli in a consecutive sequence, but self-deception did not predict negative priming effects in the same tasks. Importantly, these effects occurred both in tasks that called for the retrieval of self-knowledge (Study 1) and those that did not (Studies 2–4). This broad pattern supports substantive views of self-deception rather than views narrowly focused on self-presentation processes. Implications for understanding self-deception are discussed.



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Michael Robinson
University of Southern California

References found in this work

An argument for basic emotions.Paul Ekman - 1992 - Cognition and Emotion 6 (3):169-200.
On the self-regulation of behavior.Charles S. Carver - 1998 - New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Michael Scheier.
Self-discrepancy: A theory relating self and affect.E. Tory Higgins - 1987 - Psychological Review 94 (3):319-340.

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