The Humane Mind

Deception I An alluring illusion

What is Deception? It is a widely accepted perspective that humans are naturally inclined towards the good, but on the other hand, some believe that humans are a blend of good and evil that we call living in the grey. Many readers will have this thought in mind: how are the title and this philosophy even connected? The core of deception lies in altering reality for one’s personal gains.

The concept of deception can be used to defend one’s natural inclination toward the good if you see things through the angle that one can use deception to hide their darkest selves that they think might scare the people around them away or the other way, you can take it as a source to achieve personal gains.
In today’s blog, we will dive deep into the deception, its types, how you can use it, and how to spot it. So stay with me.


Types of Deception:

As mentioned earlier, deception comes in different types and forms. Here, we will discuss active, passive, and self-deception.

Active Deception:

If a person actively moulds reality for whatever reason, it is termed active deception. Lying is a prevalent example of it. For example, Jane couldn’t score the highest grades in the class and, on the way back home, told her mother that she achieved an A. Her mother bought her an ice cream. It’s important to note why I mentioned the reward because we can take the situation in two ways.

Firstly, maybe she lied because she didn’t want to hurt her mother’s emotions; secondly, she did that for a reward. It can be positive and negative deception, depending upon her intentions. From the example, I wanted to draw a direct relationship that exists between intentions and the nature of deception.

Passive Deception:

We can call passive deception a relatively innocent form of deception because the deliverer doesn’t directly lie or mould the reality; instead, they create ambiguity or present the truth so that it can be misinterpreted. It can be due to the lack of information and misuse of body language, expressions, and emotions. For example, Kate has Diabetes, and her physician has strictly prohibited her from taking sugar or excess crabs.

Kate went to her friend’s birthday party a week ago and consumed extra sugar in the form of cake and other junk food. Soon after, she was unwell. Long story short, she went to the physician, and when he asked her about her sugar and crab consumption, she said, “I didn’t consume anything last night. Note that she went to the birthday party two days back. And for the physician, he may write new tests or might think of any other cause.


Psychologically speaking, self-deception is the most dangerous form of deception. You are lying to yourself that the things you already know are not true, but it can be beneficial, too, in some cases. For example, Maria is in a relationship they already know is unhealthy and won’t go far. But she makes a lot of compromises and ignores all the red flags coming her way, forcing herself to believe that this is true love, which deep down she knows is not, but to escape the fear of loneliness, she is self-decapitating herself.



On the other hand, there is a cancer patient at a nearby hospital, and all the tests indicate blood cancer. The people around her tell her she has a concise life now. She also knows that but then tells herself every day whenever she loses hope that she will be okay again. Well, that’s grit and courage that self-deception can sometimes give you and a very positive side. But one should be able to differentiate between both types.

How to Spot Deception?

The self-deceiving people already know this, and when asked, they mainly accept, but it can be tricky in the case of active and passive deception. Here are a few signs to look for to spot deception:

Creating a Baseline:

Follow the same procedure as the polygraph test, which criminals worldwide fear. Before the actual questioning begins, this highly accurate lie detector test always establishes a baseline for three of a person’s physiological indices. Responses to the real questions are compared to the baseline to detect lies. Some people avoid eye contact on a regular basis, while others only avoid it when they lie. Similarly, some people frequently use the phrase “Let me be honest.” For them, that phrase is most likely not being used to conceal a lie. To have the best chance of detecting when someone is stretching the truth, learn what’s normal for the person and the situation whenever possible.


Recently, a study at Harvard University led by Professor Julia Minson investigated the types of questions that best detect deception. General questions like, “Can you tell me about this car?” It didn’t work well because they made it far too easy to leave out important information. Optimistic assumptions are preferable, “The car doesn’t have gearbox problems, does it?”. However, the best questions are open-ended and involve negative assumptions, for example, “What problems does the car have?”. They force the respondent to reveal accurate information or actively provide a deceptive answer.

Increasing Cognition Load:

This trick is used by detectives and investigators to catch liars with a higher cognitive load, as lying requires fabricating a story and keeping track of the truth, which is equal to mentally taxing. People are more likely to use pause filters such as ums and ahs, may stop to drink water, take longer to answer questions, and make mistakes when they think things are getting more complex. Increase cognitive load by asking questions out of order, requesting irrelevant details, or turning on talk radio or the television.

Trust me, you will very easily spot either form of deception. For example, Chris bunked the college and went out for a picnic; his class in charge called his mother to inform her about his absence. On the way home, Chris told his mother he attended the course and what they studied. Now his mother can ask him irrelevant questions such as what color of clothes her teacher was wearing, what he talked about to his friends, did someone went on short leave, what he had for his lunch, etc., and eventually, it will reveal the truth.

Read the Body Language It Never Lies: Watch for inappropriate, uncommon, or unusual body language. Look for behaviours that stray from the baseline for a specific person while remembering the baseline. Watch for common liar mistakes like mismatched words and body language. They could say “no” while also nodding “yes.” They may exhibit unusual emotions (for example, laughing when the subject is serious). Alternatively, they may claim to feel one emotion while appearing to feel another. While grieving for his “missing” wife, convicted murderer Scott Peterson played golf, chatted casually on his cell phone during searches for her, and sold her car.

Similarly, they may depict sombre emotions when the subject is very light. For example, in the above example, Chris may sweat when asked about her teacher’s dress colour, though the issue is very light. Similarly, we can find other models in our daily lives.

Watch out for Exit:

Keep an eye out for the exit. When we lie, we are frequently concerned about being exposed. When we are anxious, we try to get out of the situation. This can include physically leaving the room, looking at the door, checking their watch, or desiring to leave. Some people lean towards the exit or engage in “eye blocking,” which involves closing their eyes and imagining themselves elsewhere. Or they can also remind you of something important that either you or they need to accomplish, for example, if you are on the phone call they may claim they have a meeting, when its actually the luch time.


Deception is a necessary evil in our lives; we can’t survive with it, but we can’t survive without it. It comes in many forms, which include, but are not limited to, active, passive, and self-deception. Active deception implies that the speaker deliberately deflates reality by telling a lie. On the other hand, in the case of passive deception, the speaker may or may not have intentions to mould the fact, but they deliver the truth so that it can be misinterpreted, as I discussed in the example in the blog.

Self-deception is a very different thing a person knows but doesn’t want to accept. In either case, all of them should be used where appropriate, and excess use should be refrained as it can create mistrust and loss of respect and dignity in personal lives and relationships.

F and Q’s

What is deception in psychology?
Deception is a broad term in psychology, but moulds the truth for personal gains. It comes in many forms, such as active and passive, and it can be positive or negative depending upon the intentions of an individual.
Is deception a lie?
Yes and no; lying is directly associated with deception in active deception. On the other hand, in the case of passive deception, you don’t necessarily lie. You don’t need to make a statement; instead, you can use your emotions and expressions to give a meaning that is not coherent with reality.


Read also: Narcissism I Who is a Narcissist? I Some facts you should know about

What is Deception? It is a widely accepted perspective that

Scroll to Top