Deceiving yourself to better deceive high-status compared to equal-status others

Huijing Lu, Lei Chang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The arms race between deception and detection is likely to have played out between individuals in different status hierarchies, with low-status individuals more likely to be deceivers and high-status individuals more likely to be detectors than the other way around. Memory and its distortion may be temporarily employed first to keep truthful information away from both self and others and later to retrieve accurate information to benefit the self. Using a dual-retrieval paradigm, we tested the hypothesis that people are likely to deceive themselves to better deceive high- rather than equal-status others. College student participants were explicitly instructed (Study 1 and 2) or induced (Study 3) to deceive either a high-status teacher or an equal-status fellow student. When interacting with the high- but not equal-status target, participants in three studies genuinely remembered fewer previously studied items than they did on a second memory test alone without the deceiving target. The results support the view that self-deception responds to status hierarchy that registers probabilities of deception detection such that people are more likely to self-deceive high- rather than equal-status others.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-654
Number of pages20
JournalEvolutionary psychology : an international journal of evolutionary approaches to psychology and behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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