The association between self-deception and moral self-concept as functions of self-consciousness


Regulated by self-consciousness, self-deception is a part of the self-system that suppresses negative aspects of the self and maintains a positive moral self-concept. We tested this evolutionary hypothesis on 166 college students by measuring self-deception using both a questionnaire and a series of hypothetical helping scenarios. The results showed a positive correlation between self-deception and moral selfconcept, which was moderated by private self-consciousness. Among participants with high, but not low, self-consciousness, high moral self-concept individuals were more willing to help when potential selfbenefits were present than low moral self-concept individuals, whereas there was no difference between the two groups concerning helping without self-benefit. These results support the evolutionary view that self-deception serves to maintain optimal moral self-concept, especially for individuals with high selfconsciousness.

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