Always the hero to ourselves: the role of self-deception in unethical behaviour

Moore, C (2016) Always the hero to ourselves: the role of self-deception in unethical behaviour. In: Cheating, corruption and concealment: roots of unethical behavior. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 98-119. ISBN 9781107105393


Many people would doubt Ken Lay’s sincerity as he claimed, during a 2004 interview on CNN, that what he valued most about himself was his integrity. Many people, that is, except Lay himself, who likely felt wholeheartedly sincere when he said so. Humans have a deep-seated need to see
themselves in a positive light (Greenwald, 1980), a need that is particularly acute in the moral domain (Blasi, 1984). Nearly everyone believes strongly that they are moral and holds the view that their actions are appropriate, honorable, and fair (Allison, Messick, & Goethals, 1989; Messick, Bloom, Boldizar, & Samuelson, 1985; Van Lange & Sedikides, 1998). In other words, we are the heroes of our own narratives. However, this common belief sits uncomfortably with the fact that most of us
behave, with distressing frequency, in ways that are inappropriate, dishonorable, and unfair (Ariely, 2012; Callahan, 2004; Gabor, 1994). We resolve this common contradiction – that we often in fact behave in ways that we like to think we don’t – through self-deception, “the active misrepresentation of reality to the conscious mind” (Trivers, 2000, p. 114). This chapter is about the way in which self-deception supports our ability to think of ourselves as the hero of our own narratives, when in fact we have been anything but.

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Item Type: Book Section
Subject Areas: Organisational Behaviour
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© 2016 Cambridge University Press

Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2016 13:41
Subjects: Ethics
Last Modified: 23 Dec 2019 14:40

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