Magazine article Psychology Today

Q & A With. Joseph Hallinan

Magazine article Psychology Today

Q & A With. Joseph Hallinan

Article excerpt

IN KIDDING OURSELVES, Pulitzer-winning writer JOSEPH HALLINAN shows that for all the slipperiness of human thinking, there are some self-delusions we simply can't do without.

-Matt Huston

What's one common way self-delusion threatens our well-being?

Researchers who fitted people with accelerometers found out that both men and women dramatically overestimate the amount of exercise they get. So people tend not to exercise enough, and as a consequence, develop all the cardiovascular problems that we know crop up.

Politics stands out as a hotbed of bias.

We have a tendency to see the world not as it is but as we'd tike it to be. We often have a hard time crediting politicians we don't tike with outcomes we do like. A well-known experiment found that people who liked Reagan thought he trimmed inflation, and people who didn't thought inflation was much higher than it actually was. Republicans didn't think Clinton cut the deficit, and Democratsdid.lt realty affects the way people view even things you wouldn't think were subjective.

But there's also an upside to self-deception.

ABC journalist Amy Robach went on Good Morning America to announce that she had breast cancer, and she had cut off her hair. …

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