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Abstract

How do people remain blind to the motives underlying their flattering self-construals, attitudes, and social judgments? This paper explores how motivated cognition accomplishes the goal of self-deception. It proposes that self-serving conclusions are produced although the influence of such distortions remains hidden from conscious awareness because of the ubiquitous presence and specialized nature of motivated cognition. I will discuss how motivations infiltrate four stages of cognitive processing, including information gathering and the creation of filters, the deployment of attention, information processing, and memory. In doing so, I will suggest that perhaps it is precisely because of this multicomponent system of checks and balances, the efficiency of motivational biases, and the specialized neural pathways used by motivated cognition that self-deception is successful.