Deception
Overview
 
Deception, beguilement, deceit, bluff, mystification, bad faith
Bad faith
Bad faith is double mindedness or double heartedness in duplicity, fraud, or deception. It may involve intentional deceit of others, or self deception....

, and subterfuge are acts to propagate beliefs that are not true
Truth
Truth has a variety of meanings, such as the state of being in accord with fact or reality. It can also mean having fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. In a common usage, it also means constancy or sincerity in action or character...

, or not the whole truth (as in half-truths
Half-truths
A half-truth is a deceptive statement that includes some element of truth. The statement might be partly true, the statement may be totally true but only part of the whole truth, or it may utilize some deceptive element, such as improper punctuation, or double meaning, especially if the intent is...

 or omission). Deception can involve dissimulation
Dissimulation
Dissimulation is a form of deception in which one conceals the truth. It consists of concealing the truth, or in the case of half-truths, concealing parts of the truth, like inconvenient or secret information. Dissimulation differs from simulation, in which one exhibits false information...

, propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

, and sleight of hand
Sleight of hand
Sleight of hand, also known as prestidigitation or legerdemain, is the set of techniques used by a magician to manipulate objects such as cards and coins secretly....

. It can employ distraction, camouflage or concealment. There is also self-deception
Self-deception
Self-deception is a process of denying or rationalizing away the relevance, significance, or importance of opposing evidence and logical argument...

 as in bad faith
Bad faith
Bad faith is double mindedness or double heartedness in duplicity, fraud, or deception. It may involve intentional deceit of others, or self deception....

.

Deception is a major relational transgression that often leads to feelings of betrayal and distrust between relational partners.
Encyclopedia
Deception, beguilement, deceit, bluff, mystification, bad faith
Bad faith
Bad faith is double mindedness or double heartedness in duplicity, fraud, or deception. It may involve intentional deceit of others, or self deception....

, and subterfuge are acts to propagate beliefs that are not true
Truth
Truth has a variety of meanings, such as the state of being in accord with fact or reality. It can also mean having fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. In a common usage, it also means constancy or sincerity in action or character...

, or not the whole truth (as in half-truths
Half-truths
A half-truth is a deceptive statement that includes some element of truth. The statement might be partly true, the statement may be totally true but only part of the whole truth, or it may utilize some deceptive element, such as improper punctuation, or double meaning, especially if the intent is...

 or omission). Deception can involve dissimulation
Dissimulation
Dissimulation is a form of deception in which one conceals the truth. It consists of concealing the truth, or in the case of half-truths, concealing parts of the truth, like inconvenient or secret information. Dissimulation differs from simulation, in which one exhibits false information...

, propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

, and sleight of hand
Sleight of hand
Sleight of hand, also known as prestidigitation or legerdemain, is the set of techniques used by a magician to manipulate objects such as cards and coins secretly....

. It can employ distraction, camouflage or concealment. There is also self-deception
Self-deception
Self-deception is a process of denying or rationalizing away the relevance, significance, or importance of opposing evidence and logical argument...

 as in bad faith
Bad faith
Bad faith is double mindedness or double heartedness in duplicity, fraud, or deception. It may involve intentional deceit of others, or self deception....

.

Deception is a major relational transgression that often leads to feelings of betrayal and distrust between relational partners. Deception violates relational rules
Norm (sociology)
Social norms are the accepted behaviors within a society or group. This sociological and social psychological term has been defined as "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit...

 and is considered to be a negative violation of expectations. Most people expect friends, relational partners, and even strangers to be truthful most of the time. If people expected most conversations to be untruthful, talking and communicating with others would require distraction and misdirection to acquire reliable information. On a given day, it is likely that most human beings will either deceive or be deceived by another person. A significant amount of deception occurs between romantic and relational partners.

Types

Deception includes several types of communications or omissions that serve to distort or omit the complete truth. Deception itself is intentionally managing verbal and/or nonverbal messages so that the message receiver will believe in a way that the message sender knows is false. Intent is critical with regard to deception. Intent differentiates between deception and an honest mistake. The Interpersonal Deception Theory
Interpersonal deception theory
Interpersonal deception theory attempts to explain the manner in which individuals deal with actual or perceived deception on the conscious and subconscious levels while engaged in face-to-face communication. Communication is not static; it is influenced not only by one's own goals, but also by...

 explores the interrelation between communicative context and sender and receiver cognitions and behaviors in deceptive exchanges.

The five primary forms of deception are:
  1. Lie
    Lie
    For other uses, see Lie A lie is a type of deception in the form of an untruthful statement, especially with the intention to deceive others....

    s
    : making up information or giving information that is the opposite or very different from the truth.
  2. Equivocations: making an indirect, ambiguous, or contradictory statement.
  3. Concealments: omitting information that is important or relevant to the given context, or engaging in behavior that helps hide relevant information.
  4. Exaggerations: overstatement or stretching the truth to a degree.
  5. Understatements
    Minimisation (psychology)
    Minimisation is a type of deception involving denial coupled with rationalisation in situations where complete denial is implausible. It is the opposite of exaggeration....

    : minimization or downplaying aspects of the truth.

Motives

There are three primary motivations for deceptions in close relationships.
  • Partner-focused motives: using deception to avoid hurting the partner, to help the partner to enhance or maintain his/her self-esteem
    Self-esteem
    Self-esteem is a term in psychology to reflect a person's overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride and shame: some would distinguish how 'the self-concept is what we think about the self; self-esteem, the...

    , to avoid worrying the partner, and to protect the partner's relationship with a third party. Partner-motivated deception can sometimes be viewed as socially polite and relationally beneficial.
  • Self-focused motives: using deception to enhance or protect their self-image, wanting to shield themselves from anger
    Anger
    Anger is an automatic response to ill treatment. It is the way a person indicates he or she will not tolerate certain types of behaviour. It is a feedback mechanism in which an unpleasant stimulus is met with an unpleasant response....

    , embarrassment
    Embarrassment
    Embarrassment is an emotional state of intense discomfort with oneself, experienced upon having a socially unacceptable act or condition witnessed by or revealed to others. Usually some amount of loss of honour or dignity is involved, but how much and the type depends on the embarrassing situation...

    , or criticism
    Criticism
    Criticism is the judgement of the merits and faults of the work or actions of an individual or group by another . To criticize does not necessarily imply to find fault, but the word is often taken to mean the simple expression of an objection against prejudice, or a disapproval.Another meaning of...

    . Self-focused deception is generally perceived as a more serious transgression than partner-focused deception because the deceiver is acting for self reasons than for the good of the relationship.
  • Relationship-focused motives: using deception to limit relationship harm by avoiding conflict or relational trauma. Relationally motivated deception can be beneficial to a relationship, and other times it can be harmful by further complicating matters.

Detection

Deception detection between relational partners is extremely difficult, unless a partner tells a blatant or obvious lie or contradicts something the other partner knows to be true. While it is difficult to deceive a partner over a long period of time, deception often occurs in day-to-day conversations between relational partners. Detecting deception is difficult because there are no known completely reliable indicators of deception. Deception, however, places a significant cognitive load on the deceiver. He or she must recall previous statements so that his or her story remains consistent and believable. As a result, deceivers often leak important information both verbally and nonverbally.

Deception and its detection is a complex, fluid, and cognitive process that is based on the context of the message exchange. The Interpersonal Deception Theory
Interpersonal deception theory
Interpersonal deception theory attempts to explain the manner in which individuals deal with actual or perceived deception on the conscious and subconscious levels while engaged in face-to-face communication. Communication is not static; it is influenced not only by one's own goals, but also by...

 posits that interpersonal deception is a dynamic, iterative process of mutual influence between a sender, who manipulates information to depart from the truth, and a receiver, who attempts to establish the validity of the message. A deceiver's actions are interrelated to the message receiver's actions. It is during this exchange that the deceiver will reveal verbal and nonverbal information about deceit. Some research has found that there are some cues that may be correlated with deceptive communication, but scholars frequently disagree about the effectiveness of many of these cues to serve as reliable indicators. Noted deception scholar Aldert Vrij even states that there is no nonverbal behavior that is uniquely associated with deception. As previously stated, a specific behavioral indicator of deception does not exist. There are, however, some nonverbal behaviors that have been found to be correlated with deception. Vrij found that examining a "cluster" of these cues was a significantly more reliable indicator of deception than examining a single cue.

In terms of perceptions about the significance of deceiving a partner, women and men typically differ in their beliefs about deception. Women view deception as a much more profound relational transgression than men. Additionally, women rate lying in general as a less acceptable behavior than men. Finally, women are much more likely to view any act of lying as significant (regardless of the subject matter) and more likely to report negative emotional reactions to lying.

Truth bias

The truth bias significantly impairs the ability of relational partners to detect deception. In term of deception, a truth bias reflects a tendency to judge more messages as truths than lies, independent of their actual veracity. When judging message veracity, the truth bias contributes to an overestimate of the actual number of truths relative to the base rate of actual truths. The truth bias is especially strong within close relationships. People are highly inclined to trust the communications of others and are unlikely to question the relational partner unless faced with a major deviation of behavior that forces a reevaluation. When attempting to detect deceit from a familiar person or relational partner, a large amount of information about the partner is brought to mind. This information essentially overwhelms the receiver's cognitive ability to detect and process any cues to deception. It is somewhat easier to detect deception in strangers, when less information about that person is brought to mind.

Camouflage

The camouflage
Camouflage
Camouflage is a method of concealment that allows an otherwise visible animal, military vehicle, or other object to remain unnoticed, by blending with its environment. Examples include a leopard's spotted coat, the battledress of a modern soldier and a leaf-mimic butterfly...

 of a physical object often works by breaking up the visual boundary of that object. This usually involves colouring the camouflaged object with the same colours as the background against which the object will be hidden. In the realm of deceptive half-truths
Half-truths
A half-truth is a deceptive statement that includes some element of truth. The statement might be partly true, the statement may be totally true but only part of the whole truth, or it may utilize some deceptive element, such as improper punctuation, or double meaning, especially if the intent is...

 camouflage is realized by 'hiding' some of the truths.

Example:
  • Camouflage
    Military camouflage
    Military camouflage is one of many means of deceiving an enemy. In practice, it is the application of colour and materials to battledress and military equipment to conceal them from visual observation. The French slang word camouflage came into common English usage during World War I when the...

     as a form of visual deception is an essential part of military deception
    Military deception
    Military deception is an attempt to amplify, or create an artificial fog of war or to mislead the enemy using psychological operations, information warfare and other methods. As a form of strategic use of information , it overlaps with psychological warfare...

    .

Disguise appearance

A disguise is an appearance to create the impression of being somebody or something else; for a well-known person this is also called incognito.

Example:
  • The fictional Sherlock Holmes
    Sherlock Holmes
    Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fantastic London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to take almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve...

     often disguised himself as somebody else to avoid being recognized.


In a more abstract sense, 'disguise' may refer to the act of disguising the nature of a particular proposal in order to hide an unpopular motivation or effect associated with that proposal. This is a form of political spin
Spin (public relations)
In public relations, spin is a form of propaganda, achieved through providing an interpretation of an event or campaign to persuade public opinion in favor or against a certain organization or public figure...

 or propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

. See also: rationalisation and transfer within the techniques of propaganda generation.

Example:
  • Depicting an act of war as a "peace" mission.

Dazzle

Example:
  • The defensive mechanisms of most octopuses to eject black ink
    Ink
    Ink is a liquid or paste that contains pigments and/or dyes and is used to color a surface to produce an image, text, or design. Ink is used for drawing and/or writing with a pen, brush, or quill...

     in a large cloud to aid in escape from predators.

Simulation

Simulation consists of exhibiting false information. There are three simulation techniques: mimicry (copying another model), fabrication (making up a new model), and distraction (offering an alternative model)

Mimicry

In the biological world, mimicry involves unconscious deception by similarity to another organism, or to a natural object. Animals for example may deceive predators or prey by visual, auditory
Sound
Sound is a mechanical wave that is an oscillation of pressure transmitted through a solid, liquid, or gas, composed of frequencies within the range of hearing and of a level sufficiently strong to be heard, or the sensation stimulated in organs of hearing by such vibrations.-Propagation of...

 or other means.

Fabrication

To make something that in reality is not what it appears to be. For example, in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, it was common for the Allies
Allies
In everyday English usage, allies are people, groups, or nations that have joined together in an association for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out between them...

 to use hollow tanks made out of cardboard to fool German reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 planes into thinking a large armor unit was on the move in one area while the real tanks were well hidden and on the move in a location far from the fabricated "dummy" tanks.

Distraction

To get someone's attention from the truth by offering bait
Bait
Bait may refer to:* Bait , bait as a luring substance* Bait and switch, a form of fraud* Bait car, vehicle rigged by the police to catch auto thieves* Dog-baiting, using dogs to worry or torment a chained or confined animal...

 or something else more tempting to divert attention away from the object being concealed. For example, a security company publicly announces that it will ship a large gold shipment down one route, while in reality take a different route.

In social research

Some methodologies in social research, especially in psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 involve deception. The researchers purposely mislead or misinform the participants about the true nature of the experiment.

In an experiment conducted by Stanley Milgram
Stanley Milgram
Stanley Milgram was an American social psychologist most notable for his controversial study known as the Milgram Experiment. The study was conducted in the 1960s during Milgram's professorship at Yale...

 in 1963 the researchers told participants that they would be participating in a scientific study of memory and learning. In reality the study looked at the participants' willingness to obey commands, even when that involved inflicting pain upon another person. After the study, the subjects were informed of the true nature of the study, and steps were taken in order to ensure that the subjects left in a state of well being.

Use of deception raises many problems of research ethics
Research ethics
Research ethics involves the application of fundamental ethical principles to a variety of topics involving scientific research. These include the design and implementation of research involving human experimentation, animal experimentation, various aspects of academic scandal, including scientific...

 and it is strictly regulated by professional bodies such as the American Psychological Association
American Psychological Association
The American Psychological Association is the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the United States. It is the world's largest association of psychologists with around 154,000 members including scientists, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. The APA...

.

In psychological research

Psychological research often needs to deceive the subjects as to its actual purpose. The rationale for such deception is that humans are sensitive to how they appear to others (and to themselves) and this self-consciousness might interfere with or distort from how they actually behave outside of a research context (where they would not feel they were being scrutinized). For example, if a psychologist is interested in learning the conditions under which students cheat on tests, directly asking them, "how often do you cheat?," might result in a high percent of "socially desirable" answers and the researcher would in any case be unable to verify the accuracy of these responses. In general, then, when it is unfeasible or naive to simply ask people directly why or how often they do what they do, researchers turn to the use of deception to distract their participants from the true behavior of interest. So, for example, in a study of cheating, the participants may be told that the study has to do with how intuitive they are and during the process they might be given the opportunity to look at (secretly, they think) another participant's [presumably highly intuitively correct] answers before handing in their own. At the conclusion of this or any research involving deception, all participants must be told of the true nature of the study and why deception was necessary (this is called debriefing). Moreover, it is customary to offer to provide a summary of the results to all participants at the conclusion of the research.

Though commonly used and allowed by the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association, APA.org there has been debate about whether or not the use of deception should be permitted in psychological research experiment
Experiment
An experiment is a methodical procedure carried out with the goal of verifying, falsifying, or establishing the validity of a hypothesis. Experiments vary greatly in their goal and scale, but always rely on repeatable procedure and logical analysis of the results...

s.

Those against deception object to the ethical and methodological issues involved in its use. Dresser (1981) notes that, ethically, researchers are only to use subjects in an experiment after the subject has given informed consent. However, because of its very nature, a researcher conducting a deception experiment cannot reveal its true purpose to the subject, thereby making any consent given by a subject misinformed (p. 3). Baumrind
Diana Baumrind
Diana Blumberg Baumrind is a clinical and developmental psychologist.Baumrind was born into a small Jewish community in New York City, the first of two daughters of Hyman and Mollie Blumberg. She completed her B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy at Hunter College in 1948, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in...

 (1964), criticizing the use of deception in the Milgram (1963) obedience experiment
Milgram experiment
The Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures was a series of notable social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram, which measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that...

, argues that deception experiments inappropriately take advantage of the implicit trust and obedience given by the subject when the subject volunteers to participate (p. 421).

From a practical perspective, there are also methodological objections to deception. Ortmann and Hertwig (1998) note that “deception can strongly affect the reputation of individual labs and the profession, thus contaminating the participant pool” (p. 806). If the subjects in the experiment are suspicious of the researcher, they are unlikely to behave as they normally would, and the researcher’s control of the experiment is then compromised (p. 807).

Those who do not object to the use of deception note that there is always a constant struggle in balancing “the need for conducting research that may solve social problems and the necessity for preserving the dignity and rights of the research participant” (Christensen, 1988, p. 670). They also note that, in some cases, using deception is the only way to obtain certain kinds of information, and that prohibiting all deception in research would “have the egregious consequence of preventing researchers from carrying out a wide range of important studies” (Kimmel, 1998, p. 805).

Additionally, findings suggest that deception is not harmful to subjects. Christensen’s (1988) review of the literature found “that research participants do not perceive that they are harmed and do not seem to mind being misled” (p. 668). Furthermore, those participating in experiments involving deception “reported having enjoyed the experience more and perceived more educational benefit” than those who participated in non-deceptive experiments (p. 668).

Lastly, it has also been suggested that an unpleasant treatment used in a deception study or the unpleasant implications of the outcome of a deception study may be the underlying reason that a study using deception is perceived as unethical in nature, rather than the actual deception itself (Broder, 1998, p. 806; Christensen, 1988, p. 671).

In philosophy

Deception is a recurring theme in modern philosophy. In 1641 Descartes published his meditations, in which he introduced the notion of the Deus deceptor
Deus Deceptor
-Credits:* Johan Liiva - Vocals* Johan Reinholdz - Guitar/Bass* Matte Modin - Drums...

, a posited being capable of deceiving the thinking ego
EGO
See also Egoism Ego is a Latin word meaning "I", cognate with the Greek "Εγώ " meaning "I", often used in English to mean the "self", "identity" or other related concepts.It may also refer to:...

 about reality
Reality
In philosophy, reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible...

. The notion was used as part of his methodological doubt, wherein one decides to doubt everything there is to doubt. The Deus deceptor is a mainstay of so-called skeptical arguments, which purport to put into question our knowledge of reality. The punch of the argument is that all we know might be wrong, since we might be deceived. Stanley Cavell
Stanley Cavell
Stanley Louis Cavell is an American philosopher. He is the Walter M. Cabot Professor Emeritus of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University.-Life:...

 has argued that all skepticism has its root in this fear of deception.

See also

Further reading

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