Lies!, Lies!!, Lies!!! The Psychology of Deceit

By Charles V. Ford | Go to book overview

Successful impostors and con artists are obviously bright, talented, and filled with potential for genuine personal accomplishment. Yet they seem compelled not only to tell lies but to live a lie.

If--and there really seems to be little doubt--we live in a world that thrives on deception, the individual must learn how to sort through a constant bombardment of information to determine its accuracy. Just as a child learns how to lie, the child must also learn how to "read" others and make decisions about the veracity of communications. For some individuals, such as police officers, customs inspectors, and poker players, learning how to detect deception becomes a life's work. At times, mechanical devices (e.g., lie detectors) are used with the belief (perhaps mistaken) that they will assist in determining the truth.

Are the effects of lying always bad, as implied by the moralizing of parents, institutions, and the Pinocchio myth? Hardly. If lying always had negative consequences, we would all be stumbling over our noses daily. Lies are advantageously used by individuals and social groups to obtain power, sexual gratification, and material goods or wealth. It is also likely that a person's ability to read another person's need for self-deception--and to satisfy those needs--is highly associated with skills for careers in sales and politics. For most people, the skill for self-deception is closely related to the skill for deceiving others and may also be correlated with a sense of well- being and confidence for facing the future in an uncertain world.


Summary

Lying and self-deception permeate all aspects of human life and social interactions. Societal messages about deceit are often contradictory; we teach our children how to lie effectively and encourage others to lie to us even as we condemn lying as a vice. The development of a comprehensive psychology of deceit must consider these paradoxes in addition to the biological, intrapsychic, and societal influences on the process of human deception.

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Lies!, Lies!!, Lies!!! The Psychology of Deceit
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter 1 - Everybody Lies 1
  • Summary 21
  • Chapter 2 - Defining Deceit: The Language of Lying 23
  • Summary 45
  • Chapter 3 - The Biology of Deceit 47
  • Summary 66
  • Chapter 4 - Learning to Lie: Developmental Issues in Deceit 69
  • Summary 86
  • Chapter 5 - Why People Lie. the Determinants of Deceit 87
  • Summary 101
  • Chapter 6 - Styles of Deception: The Role of Personality 103
  • Summary 129
  • Chapter 7 - Pathological Lying 133
  • Summary 146
  • Chapter 8 - Living a Lie: Impostors, Con Artists, and Persons with Munchausen Syndrome 147
  • Summary 170
  • Chapter 9 - False Memories, False Accusations, and False Confessions 173
  • Summary 194
  • Chapter 10 - Detection of Deceit 197
  • Summary 219
  • Chapter 11 - Technological Detection of Deceit 221
  • Summary 234
  • Chapter 12 - Therapeutic Approaches for the Deceitful Person 237
  • Summary 248
  • Chapter 13 - Effects of Deception 251
  • Summary 270
  • Chapter 14 - A Psychology of Deceit: Conclusions and Summary 271
  • Summary 283
  • Epilogue 287
  • References 289
  • Index 317
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