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Go Ahead, Lie to Yourself

Self-deception can be a good thing, in moderation, say researchers
By Liam Carnahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2012 5:13 PM CDT
Updated Aug 4, 2012 7:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Tell yourself sweet little lies. That's the advice of several researchers looking into the habit of self-deception. In some cases, inflating your sense of your own intelligence or abilities could help you attain goals, reports the Wall Street Journal, provided the habit doesn't become a crutch. Studies have shown that self-deception is common for many people starting early on in life—as young as age 3—and becomes more common as people age. For some, it may be an innate tendency, while others develop the behavior as a coping mechanism.

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One anthropology professor gives the example of a CEO who is a poor public speaker, but convinces himself otherwise. This act of self-deception could give him confidence when it's time to take the mic, or even convince others that he is indeed a good public speaker simply because he appears more comfortable. But be wary: While researchers say "a little bit of self-deception isn't an unhealthy thing, a lot is an extremely unhealthy thing." Telling yourself you're exercising more than you actually are, or ignoring a problem because you are convinced you will take care of it later, are examples of negative self-deception. (Read more deception stories.)

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