Self-deception as a function of social status.

The phenomenon of self-deception has attracted the attention of philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, and evolutionary biologists. Different theoretical and methodological approaches notwithstanding, their findings share 1 common notion: self-deception has some adaptive properties. Here we present the results of the 2 studies, with the mutual aim to explore the function of self-deception in the processes of social integration, such as conformism. In the first study, we found that participants who conformed under social pressure were significantly more likely to self-deceive, and had more symptoms of depression than the rest of the group. In the second study, we explored the relationship among socioeconomic status (SES), self-deception, gender-specific conformism, and depression in women. The rationale for this was that in most human cultures, men are the socially dominant gender, and at the same time, the incidence of depression is higher among women. We found that self-deceivers had fewer symptoms of depression, but only in the low-SES group; there was no association between depressive symptomatology and self-deception in the high-SES group. Similarly, only in the low-SES group did the self-deceivers assess their housing conditions as significantly better than the nonself-deceivers did (even though objective indicators showed no differences in their housing conditions). Furthermore, women with both low self-deception and gender-specific conformism had the highest depression scores. Taken together, these results are in line with the idea of the dual role of self-deception as both offensive and defensive. They also suggest that self-deception might have a larger impact in lower than in higher social status individuals. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)