Final Abstract for URS Program
Whether or not a self-deceiver has the intention of deceiving themselves is a highly debated topic. According to intentionalist theories, the individual does intend to deceive themselves; according to revisionist theories, they deceive themselves without the direct intention to do so. Kevin Lynch provides a non-intentionalist, revisionist account of self-deception which holds that self-deception is due to biased systematic processing. What this amounts to is that, according to Lynch, self-deception occurs because the self-deceiver intentionally seeks favorable evidence and critically scrutinizes unfavorable evidence while at the same time they unintentionally omit to scrutinize favorable evidence and seek unfavorable evidence, forming a bias that the self-deceiver is unaware of (biased systematic processing). While this depicts many cases of self-deception, there are also circumstances where the self-deceiver intentionally avoids opposing and unwelcome evidence, intentionally ignoring it. Lynch recognizes this, but doesn’t include it within his model, vaguely stating that oftentimes people operate without such reflective awareness of their biases. Thus, my objective for this research was to uncover how intentional omissions fit within non-intentionalist, revisionist theories such as Lynch's. I argue that cognitive dissonance theory and the belief-disconfirmation paradigm within it shed light on these intentional omissions. When people are confronted with evidence that contradicts pre-established beliefs, they may intentionally omit to scrutinize evidence for their belief, or intentionally omit to seek out evidence for the contradictory belief due to the discomfort of cognitive dissonance.