Dealing in Deception
Welcome to Issue 320 of Institute Inbrief
View this email in your browser
Issue 320 // Institute Inbrief
Dear <<First Name>>,

Welcome to Edition 320 of Institute Inbrief. In our previous article 
(Edition 319), we acknowledged that engaging in deception can have cognitive, emotional, and social benefits. In this edition, we examine the different types of deception, see how it creates relational fallout, and examine the question of gullibility: that is, are we hardwired to be suspicious, or to trust, and how might habitual lying change things? 

Also in this edition:
  1. The Eclectic Therapist (Order Now)
  2. The Benefits of Intentional Daydreaming
  3. A Case Using Equine-Assisted Therapy
  4. Counselling: From Resistance to Acceptance
  5. Quotations, Seminar Timetables & More!

Enjoy your reading!

AIPC Team. 
Diploma of Counselling
Join one of the most personally enriching careers.

There is no more rewarding way to help others than by providing emotional support that assists people get their lives back on track.

AIPC is the largest provider of counselling courses in the country. We have specialised in counsellor training for over 28 years. We have proudly helped over 55,000 people from 27 countries pursue their personal and career interests in counselling.

Our Diploma of Counselling is a journey of self-discovery, providing deep insight into why you think and behave as you do. And when you graduate, you will be extremely well prepared to pursue a career in counselling – employed or self-employed – enjoying our strong industry reputation and linkage.

As a Counsellor you will:
  1. Be truly passionate about what you do.
  2. Help people every day overcome challenges and lead better lives.
  3. Enjoy job security in one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country.
  4. Have the freedom of owning your own business.

Ready to start your Counselling journey, <<First Name>>?

LEARN MORE 
Community Services Courses
Helping You Help Your Community
 
By gaining a qualification within the Community Services sector, you will be contributing to an industry that serves a very important purpose: to assist those with personal or relationship challenges. There is nothing more fulfilling than helping others overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. And there’s no better time to do that than now!
 
Diploma of Financial Counsellinglearn more
Do you want to help others who are facing financial hardship?

Diploma of Community Services (Case Management)learn more
Join one of the fastest growing employment sectors in the country!
 
Diploma of Youth Worklearn more
Do you want to positively influence the next generation?


LEARN MORE 

 
The Eclectic Therapist
Expand your knowledge and understanding of 7 “must have” therapeutic modalities for any practitioner or student. 


You’ve done a thorough assessment of the client’s symptoms and presenting issues, identified their goals for therapy, and determined that you can work with them. Now what? Which therapy will be most effectively in helping the client attain their goals and get their life back on track?

AIPC's 300+ page e-book - The Eclectic Therapist - explores seven popular therapeutic modalities, including:
  1. Cognitive-behavioural Therapy
  2. Person-centred Therapy
  3. Solution-focused Therapy
  4. Positive Psychology
  5. Creative Therapies
  6. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and
  7. Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy.

The purpose of this e-book is to help not only practitioners, but anyone who may benefit from the concepts and techniques that have helped millions enhance their mental health, happiness and wellbeing.

For a limited, you can purchase your copy for just $9.95 USD (usually $49.95).

Go to
www.counsellingconnection.com to purchase your copy today. 
Dealing in Deception: The Truth About Our Truth-telling
“You should always believe your clients,” said the counselling-training professor to the trainees, “and you should always disbelieve them” 


It’s possible that that advice – confusing and impossible as it seems to be – is useful not only for therapists listening to clients, but to any of us listening to a fellow human being. Even cursory examination of the literature about deception reveals a hornet’s nest of apparent contradictions and myriad contexts in which attempts at deceiving us fail or succeed. Hence, we read, “Trust is the bedrock of social life at all levels, from romance and parenting to national government and international treaties. Deception always undermines it” (Psychology Today, 2019). And we also find, “Lying, it turns out, is something that most of us are very adept at. We lie with ease, in ways big and small, to strangers, co-workers, friends, and loved ones” (Bhattacharjee, 2017). 

As everyday examples of the last assertion, note these all-too-common fibs:

“I’m late because traffic was diabolical!”
“No, your bottom doesn’t look big in that dress.” 
“Of course, I’m delighted to have your mother come stay with us for three months.”
“I don’t need help; my partner only hits me when he’s been drinking.”


These, of course, are interpersonal remarks; mostly, they don’t even treat the question of self-deception, which is another layer of “lying” altogether! The 
first article in this series acknowledged that, as little as we might like to admit it, engaging in deception can have cognitive, emotional, and social benefits. Today we look at what the types of deception are, see how deception creates relational fallout, and examine the question of gullibility: that is, are we hardwired to be suspicious, or to trust, and how might habitual lying change things? 

Types of deception

We can note that deception “refers to the act – big or small, cruel or kind – of causing someone to believe something that is untrue”. The blurb goes on to claim that various studies show that the average person lies several times a day (Psychology Today, 2019). That said, not all lies are created equal, as a fib to avoid hurting someone’s feelings (e.g., “Your speech was great”) is regarded by most as being in a vastly different category from a serious lie, such as “I didn’t kill the hitchhiker”. Several frameworks for categorising falsehoods exist, and they entertain distinctions such as whether the deception involved commission or omission, whether it was a small fib or a large lie (related to how morally egregious it was), whether there was some truth involved (e.g., half-truths and distortions versus out-and-out lies), how much the lie affected the relationships involved, and whether the individual intended to deceive or not. 

For simplicity, let’s consider the six types examined in a study of 80 romantically involved male and female Australian university students, who read and responded to scenarios depicting men and women perpetrating deceit in couple relationships. The research studied (1) omission; (2) distortion; (3) half-truths; (4) blatant lies; (5) white lies; and (6) failed lies. Respondents rated their own and their partner’s use of each type of deception in terms of frequency, morality, and relationship effects. The researchers also asked the subjects to rate how satisfied they were with the couple relationship. 

Results showed that each type of deception apart from the white lie was judged as “morally reprehensible” on dimensions of guilt, blame, and dishonesty. Not surprisingly, the respondents used white lies most often, and blatant lies least often; they also perceived their partners as behaving similarly. When respondents perceived their partners as frequently using blatant lying, partial truths, and attempted deceit (i.e., failed lies), relationship satisfaction was diminished. Interestingly, frequent use of deception was correlated with believing that each type of deception was better than having an argument, supporting previous research that some couples engage in deception as a method of conflict avoidance (Peterson, 1996).

Deception in relationships: What’s the impact?

But does it work? Does lying in order to avoid conflict actually help a relationship, or are there negative, unintended consequences? Psychologists have pegged a few key ways in which deception damages – and may even destroy – relationships, especially intimate ones. Unfortunately, we are able to identify a cycle in which falsehoods – along with the relationship – get worse as the cycle deepens.

Lies destroy trust

Possibly the most noticeable effect that deception has on a relationship is the washing-away of trust; trust cannot co-exist with falsehood; it crumbles. Given that trust is normally one of the pillars of relationship, the collapse of the entire relational structure is likely to follow. This may be especially true in that, once a person has told us an untruth, we naturally expect that he or she will do it again. Thus, staying in the relationship means enduring the stress of wondering not if, but when the person will tell the next lie (A Conscious Rethink, 2019).

Lies block real intimacy through lack of respect and selfishness

Few relationship experts would disagree that the authenticity which allows genuine intimacy in relationships is based on a foundation of respect. Acts of deception are essentially acts which show disrespect to the deceived person. Beyond that, true intimacy must have a reasonable measure of concern for the other person, a sense of being able to act for the other’s best interest. Falsehoods, distortions, and lies run counter to that; they are behaviours enacted for the gain of the deceiver, not the deceived. Such selfishness cannot engender closeness (Lancer, 2018).

Deception sets up a destructive (regressive) maintaining cycle

If the above were not powerful enough means by which deception destroys a relationship, we have to consider the lethality of the typical cycle that gets going when deception invades a relationship. Have a look at the deepening cycle of deception (below) to understand the tragic sequence of psychological events which unfold with the first lie. 

The individual engages the first deception, but once falsehood has entered a relationship, it usually cannot stop there. Further lies and hard-to-remember omissions are required to cover up for the first lie (hence the saying, “What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive”). Unlike sociopaths, most of us understand honesty as a moral norm, so when we violate it, we feel guilty. Continued violations (which are usually necessary, as noted, for purposes of cover-up) engender an enduring sense of shame. Our self-concept takes a hit. Feeling bad about ourselves puts us into a bad mood, engendering resentment, irritability, and aggressive impulses. We want to withdraw when around the person with whom we said we wanted the close relationship, because being with them when we are deceiving them is awkward and uncomfortable in intimate moments.

Naturally the other person notices the change in our behaviour and has a multitude of reactions to the avoidant behaviour. Among them are feelings of being confused, anxious, angry, suspicious, abandoned, or needy. This victim of the deception may begin to doubt themselves and their self-esteem is likely to suffer. If/when the deception is exposed, they may need counselling to recover from the betrayal and loss of trust; certainly, they will seek reassurance. Until/unless the deception is exposed, the deceiver is likely to continue deceiving, both to falsely reassure, and also because it becomes ever easier to tell larger and larger lies – with ever lower psychological cost.

The deepening cycle of deception
  1. Individual perpetrates deception.
  2. Deception leads to cover-up lies and hard-to-remember omissions.
  3. Managing dishonesty causes guilt/shame, resentment, aggression, & withdrawal.
  4. Victim/partner reacts to new behaviours with confusion, anxiety, anger, suspicion, or neediness.
  5. Victim/partner's confusion/anxiety/anger leads to seeking reassurance
  6. To reassure & continue deceiving, deceiver tells more and ever-larger lies - with greater ease and lower psychological cost (and we circle back to Step 1). 

Lies begat more (larger) lies

The “lower cost”, psychologically speaking, of continued deception has been demonstrated empirically numerous times.

“Fake” luxury sunglasses engender cheating. A study by Dan Ariely and colleagues confirmed the power that small falsehoods have to influence bigger lies. Female subjects volunteering to try on sunglasses for the supposed purpose of evaluating them were divided into three groups: (1) a group being told that the sunglasses were an imitation of a luxury brand; (2) a group who was told that the sunglasses were the authentic brand; and (3) a group not given any details about the sunglasses. After the women wore the shades, they were asked to solve a series of problems, but given the opportunity to cheat.

Of the women who wore the authentic brand, 30% cheated on the test. Of those without any information, 42% cheated. But of the group who thought they were wearing fake glasses, fully 73% chose to cheat. The experimenters explained that something that seemed like a small lie changed their view about right and wrong and sent participants “down the ladder” (to larger, more grievous falsehoods). Their “counterfeit self” came forward, because when people rationalise and lie in small ways, it affects their whole identity. Thus, lying is called the “gateway drug” to bigger assaults, because if one is going to do “bad things”, one needs to lie to oneself and others to get there (Whiting, 2018).

Bigger lies, weaker amygdala. The propensity to cheat or deceive is not just a personality or environmental thing; there are actually different phenomena going on in the brains of liars than those who are not prevaricating. In an experiment headed by Tali Sharot, a neuroscientist at University College London, researchers showed how the brain becomes inured to the stress or emotional discomfort that occurs when we deceive, making it easier to tell the next lie. In the fMRI scans of the participants, the team focused on the amygdala, a region of the brain that is involved in processing emotions. The investigators found that the amygdala’s response to lies got progressively weaker with each lie, even as the lies got bigger. “Engaging in small acts of deception can lead to bigger acts of deception” she suggested (Bhattacharjee, 2017). 

Lying leads to health complaints

No more needs to be said here; deception simply does not engender health on any level (Lancer, 2018).

The liar is conning him/herself

As sorry as we may feel for the victims of a fib, we must note that the perpetrator suffers, too. In engineering a concealment of the truth, liars lose the opportunity to reveal genuine wants and desires to the world, rendering them untruthful to themselves as well (A Conscious Re-think, 2019). Their relationships – including the one with themselves – are thus no longer based on a foundation of truth, and cannot truly grow and prosper.

The truth default theory: the liar’s advantage

Notwithstanding the relational fallout that occurs when we feel foolish because we believed a liar, we are bound to be duped occasionally. Why is this? Tim Levine, a psychologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, explains that we navigate the world largely on knowledge that others have given us (as opposed to direct perception). Without the implicit trust in human communications, we would be unable to have relationships with others and, in fact, would be paralysed. Levine believes that we gain a lot of advantage from believing and suffer relatively less harm when we are occasionally told a lie. Calling this the “truth default theory”, he says that being hardwired to be trusting makes us intrinsically gullible. 

Robert Feldman, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts, refers to that as the liar’s advantage. “People are not expecting lies, . . . not searching for lies,” he claims, “and a lot of the time people want to believe what they are hearing”. And, think about it, if you are a woman, don’t you really want to believe that your bottom doesn’t look big in that dress? If you are an investor, how much resistance do you want to put up to believing in those incredibly high returns promised for a potential new investment? When the falsehoods are led by people who have wealth, power, or status, claims are even easier to accept. Beyond that, we tend to believe things (whether true or not) which affirm our worldview: a human vulnerability which has been demonstrated over and over by some of the memes that have gone viral on the internet, such as that Obama was born in Africa, that climate change is not happening, or – as we noted in our previous post – that Donald Trump’s inauguration attracted as many people as Obama’s did (Bhattacharjee, 2017). 

Debunking such items with facts doesn’t work because people tend to assess evidence presented to them through a framework of pre-existing beliefs and prejudices (the “lies” or “half-truths” which they already hold in their heads). Thus, we will either ignore, not notice, ridicule, or be puzzled by emerging facts which don’t fit what we believe. Or, if the fact seems really threatening, we will attack it (Bhattacharjee, 2017). All of this adds up to a huge vulnerability of gullibility for most of us – and a concomitant capacity of those with malign intentions to succeed in duping us.

Summary

In short, the takeaway message from the studies and expert understandings cited herein is that, while most of us probably engage in at least “little fibs” on occasion, we also know that not all lies are created equal, and the “little white lies” we tell to spare someone’s feelings do not damage a relationship in the same way that serious omissions, half-truths, distortions, and blatant lies do. In addition to the many ways falsehoods poison relationships, we have shared the cycle of deepening deception that almost guarantees to move a relationship past a point of no return once initiated. In the final analysis, we can be duped, because we are hardwired to trust, and liars can take advantage of normal human gullibility. What is our defence against this? It may lie only in our ability to detect the differences in how liars use language.

In our next article, we take up the question of the tell-tale signs of deception in language.


References:
  1. A Conscious Rethink. (2019). 8 ways lying is poisonous to relationships. A Conscious Rethink. Retrieved on 21 September, 2019, from: Website.
  2. Bhattacharjee, Y. (2017). Why we lie: The science behind our deceptive ways. National Geographic. Retrieved on 21 September, 2019, from: Website.
  3. Lancer, D. (2018). How secrets and lies destroy relations. Psychology Today. Retrieved on 21 September, 2019, from: Website.
  4. Peterson, C. (1996). Deception in intimate relationships. International Journal of Psychology, 31(6), 279-288. Website.
  5. Psychology Today. (2019). What is deception? Psychology Today. Retrieved on 21 September, 2019, from: Website.
  6. Serota, K.B., & Levine, T.R. (2014). A few prolific liars: Variation in the prevalence of lying. Journal of language and social psychology. 2014, April 4. Retrieved from: Website.
  7. Whiting, J. (2018). Small lies often lead to big lies in relationships. Psychology Today. Retrieved on 21 September, 2019, from: Website.
The Benefits of Intentional Daydreaming

Psychologists and neuroscientists have recently been coming together to help us understand new discoveries about how the brain works, and it turns out that, yes, daydreaming is sometimes bad for us, and even dangerous (think air traffic controllers or surgeons zoning out on the job), but also, there is a type of daydreaming that helps us to be our innovative best. We take a look today at the phenomenon of intentional daydreaming. As a counsellor, your understanding of how it works and how it helps may just be the piece the client needs to stop feeling guilty and start maximising the benefits of unfocusing: deliberately. 

READ MORE 
A Case Using Equine-Assisted Therapy

Melody is a 45 year old professional woman who is divorced with no children. Over the last 2 years since her divorce she had been experiencing low levels of confidence along with feelings of dissatisfaction and lack of direction in her career and personal life. She also reports losing trust in others and has begun to avoid social activities. While working with Melody, the Professional Therapist, referred to as ‘T’, uses Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT) to assist Melody with regaining confidence and trust and identifying goals for the future.

READ MORE 

More articles: www.aipc.net.au/articles

 
Learn from Global Mental Health Experts
Mental Health Academy puts quality learning by global experts at your fingertips, 24/7. Accessing cutting-edge evidence and practice-based knowledge has never been more convenient.

Topics explored by MHA courses include: Evidence-based therapies, mindfulness, CBT, focussed psychological strategies, children & adolescents, relationship counselling, motivational interviewing, depression & anxiety, addictions, trauma, e-therapy, supervision, ethics, plus much more.

Join MHA now to enjoy:
  1. Access to on-demand, video learning (250+ hours)
  2. Access to self-paced, text courses (120+ courses)
  3. Invitations to select events and Masterclasses
  4. Earn professional development points/hours
  5. Online, 24/7 access to courses - from anywhere
  6. Personalised online classroom to facilitate learning

By learning with MHA, you'll also make a real, measurable contribution to some of the world's poorest communities (through MHA's local and global social impact initiatives).

LEARN MORE 
Have you visited Counselling Connection yet? Our official blog has over 500 posts counselling, psychology, self-growth, and more! Make sure you too get connected. Below is a link to a recent post.

Counselling: From Resistance to Acceptance
To resist is natural. As change management consultants are fond of saying, we are hardwired to resist change; our brain’s amygdala interprets change as a threat to the body and releases hormones for fear, fight, or flight. It’s how our body protects us from change. There’s a problem, though. Sometimes the change forced upon us is permanent, and our continued resistance to it keeps us miserable, without having any effect on the situation. Recognising that and embarking on the journey to acceptance may be the only way we can reclaim our inherent birthright of joy. We look into how we may do that.

READ MORE 

More posts: www.counsellingconnection.com
"The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is."

~ Winston Churchill
Many students of the Diploma of Counselling attend seminars to complete the practical requirements of their course. Seminars provide an ideal opportunity to network with other students and liaise with qualified counselling professionals in conjunction with completing compulsory coursework.
 
Seminar topics include:
  1. The Counselling Process
  2. Communication Skills I
  3. Communication Skills II
  4. Counselling Therapies I
  5. Counselling Therapies II
  6. Legal & Ethical Frameworks
  7. Brief Interventions and Loss & Grief Support
  8. Individualised Support and Working with Mental Health
  9. Advanced Counselling Techniques

Click here to access all seminar timetables online.
 
To register for a seminar, please contact your Student Support Centre.
For more information, visit:
COURSES
Diploma of Counselling 
Diploma of Financial Counselling 
Diploma of Community Services 
Diploma of Youth Work
Graduate Diploma of Relationship Counselling 
Bachelor of Counselling 
Bachelor of Human Services
Master of Counselling
RESOURCES
AIPC Article Library 
Counselling Connection Blog 
Counselling Case Studies 
Recognition of Prior Learning 
Timetables & Locations 
Student Policies 
Sign up to Australia's most popular FREE e-magazine
If you are not already on the mailing list for Institute Inbrief, please subscribe below.
Subscribe
Publication Contacts
Email: ezine@aipc.net.au    Website: www.aipc.net.au
AIPC appreciates your feedback. Please email ezine@aipc.net.au with any comments, suggestions or editorial input for future editions of Institute Inbrief.

Contact Support Centres
Brisbane 1800 353 643     Sydney 1800 677 697     Melbourne 1800 622 489     Adelaide 1800 246 324     Perth 1800 246 381     Gold Coast 1800 625 329     Regional QLD 1800 359 565
No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission. Opinions of contributors and advertisers are not necessarily those of the publisher. The publisher makes no representation or warranty that information contained in articles or advertisements is accurate, nor accepts liability or responsibility for any action arising out of information contained in this e-newsletter.

Copyright: 2018-19 Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors

If you no longer wish to receive this newsletter, please unsubscribe