Effects of self-deception on the processing of visually presented words

by Samantha M Villanueva

Institution: Colorado State University – Pueblo
Year: 2016
Keywords: Self-doubt; Self-deception; Word recognition
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2124663
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10217/172438


Self-doubt is a form of self-deception, a process by which a person questions or doubts themselves. To assess it experimentally, the goal of this study was to examine the unconscious mechanism for self-deception. This study was the visual/verbal portion of a companion set of experiments that were based on visual stimuli. A behavioral methodology for eliciting self-deception was developed. 104 participants were shown 80 words for 2000 ms each and then given a two minute distractor task (solitaire). Afterward, they were shown a list of 40 words one at a time for 2000 ms each and were instructed to identify words that they recognized from the list of 80 study words. Unbeknownst to them, all 40 target words were randomly distributed in the list of 80 words. There was a 49.8 ms delay for responses that were incorrect, which indicated some degree of self-doubt. This delay indicates that during an incorrect response the brain is engaging (recruiting) an unconscious mechanism that allows an individual to doubt themselves. This process may represent a form of self-deception. A post-hoc experiment using a 7-point Likert scale for responses revealed that in fact all target words provided some amount of uncertainty. In those cases (trials) that resulted in an incorrect behavioral response, participants had to engage a significant degree of self-doubt because they had in fact seen all of the stimuli. Further study of self-deception using EEG and fMRI would indicate what occurs in the brain during self-deception. Advisors/Committee Members: Pratarelli, Marc E. (advisor), O'Connor, John K. (advisor).