Self-deception and impaired categorization of anomaly

Jordan B. Peterson, Erin Driver-Linn, Colin G. DeYoung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


One hundred and forty community volunteers were prescreened for upper and lower quartile scores using the Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding [BIDR; Paulhus, D.L. (1988). Assessing self-deception and impression management in self-reports: The Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding. Unpublished manual. Vancouver, British Columbia; University of British Columbia, Measurement and control of response bias. In J. P. Robinson, P. R. Shaver, & L. Wrightsman (Eds.), Measures of personality and social-psychological attitudes (pp. 17-59). San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 1991], and classified into stable High (n = 14) and Low (n = 15) self-deception groups using the Self-Deceptive Enhancement subscale of the BIDR. Participants identified normal and anomalous computer-displayed playing cards [following Bruner, J. & Postman, L. (1949). Journal of Personality, 18, 206-223], presented for short (∼ 16 ms), then increasingly longer durations. High and low self-deceivers identified the normal cards equally rapidly. Highs, however, took twice as many trials as lows (M = 11.21, S.D. = 9.65, vs. M = 5.00, S.D. = 3.87) to identify the anomalous card correctly twice (t [16.85] corrected for unequal variances = -2.25, P = 0.019, one-tailed). Self-deception thus appears associated with impaired categorization of anomaly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-340
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 19 2002
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Preparation of this article was made possible by a Knox Fund Grant from Harvard University and by support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. We thank Daniel Higgins and Adrianne Seiffert for help in programming and modifying this task, and Mike Michaud and Mike McGarry for help in executing the study. We are also grateful to Deborah Yeh, Karen Ruggiero, and several anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier versions of this article. Finally, we are very grateful for statistical assistance from Robert Rosenthal.


  • Anomaly
  • Categorization
  • Exploration
  • Information processing
  • Self-deception


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