The Wall Street Journal reported July 30 that people who believe they are smarter or talented than they really are can actually benefit because their self-confidence can fool others into believing their self-assessment. Researchers say that self-deception is a very common — if little understood — part of human nature, practiced to boost self-esteem and happiness or deal with problems and challenges.
Studies have shown that “positivity bias” — the belief that you are smarter than you actually are — begins as early as age 3. Of course, self-delusion also can have quite serious negative consequences, such as when an overly positive self-image trumps the self-discipline you need to go on a diet when you are overweight.
“A little bit of self-deception isn’t an unhealthy thing, a lot is an extremely unhealthy thing,” says researcher Michael I. Norton, an associate professor at Harvard Business School.
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