SESP Symposium on Deception Accepted

SESP Symposium on Deception Accepted

SESP Symposium on Deception Accepted

I will chair a symposium on The Upside of Deception at the upcoming meeting of the Society of Experimental Psychology in Santa Monica. Our symposium will be on Friday 30 September from 3:35 – 4:45pm.




A philandering spouse, a habitual liar, a secretive friend; the concept of “deception” conjures up an image of people at their worst. In line with this image, the psychological literature tends to focus on negative personal and social consequences of deception. In addition to incurring a cognitive cost and a well-being tax, deception has been shown to hurt relationships and undermine interpersonal trust. In this symposium we take a novel perspective by showcasing emerging work on the upside of deception. We show that not only can detecting deception yield personal and social benefits, but so can engaging in deception. Levine discusses the benefits of prosocial lies, demonstrating that lying for altruistic reasons increases interpersonal trust. Slepian examines how keeping secrets can be good for you, revealing that keeping positive secrets improves well-being. Kalokerinos explores the social benefits of keeping positive emotions hidden in order to protect another person’s feelings. Carney discusses the benefits of detecting deception and the conditions under which deception is most likely to be successful. The talks reveal that deception—both by omission and commission—can be good for you and your relationships, with diverse consequences for personal well-being, performance, and economic outcomes as well as the formation and maintenance of social relationships. By highlighting the unexpected upsides of being deceitful, this symposium brings nuance to the psychological understanding of deception—why it exists, when it should be used, and how people can engage in and detect it effectively.


Deception: The Trust Benefits of Prosocial Lies

Emma E. Levine, University of Chicago


Concealment: The Personal Benefits of Keeping Secrets

Michael L. Slepian, Columbia University



Suppression: The Social Benefits of Hiding Emotions

Elise K. Kalokerinos, KU Leuven



Dishonesty: How to Catch a Liar

Dana R. Carney, University of California, Berkeley

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