Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Which sub-field of psychology deals with deception?

  1. Aug 16, 2015 #1
    As the title says, I want to know which field of psychology deals with how and why people deceive.
    After some searching, I could only come up with "interpersonal deception theory" which is related to deception. I want to know of similar theories and studies done on deception.
    Is social psychology the sub-field that I should look under?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 16, 2015 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

  4. Aug 16, 2015 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    It depends on the nature and extent of the deception.

    Some casual deceptions may be perpetrated out of politeness, with no malicious intent, except to spare the feelings of others. Other types of deceptions may be manifested with malicious intent, devised solely to cause harm. The latter type of deceptive behavior, I think, would fall under psychopathic personality disorders of some sort.

    If you want to know what a psychologist thinks of deception, ask a psychologist. This is Physics Forums, not Psych Forums. :wink:
  5. Aug 17, 2015 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Deception is such a broad activity that you won't one field of psychology that is appropriate. Deception by pathological liars is different to deceiving oneself, both are different to deceiving for good reasons etcetera. It would probably be easier if you narrowed down exactly what you're interested in. Is it deception as a social lubricant (i.e. "white lies")? Deception as a form of manipulation? Self-deception?
  6. Aug 18, 2015 #5
    I am referring to deception as a form of manipulation. I found a relevant wikipedia page named "Psychological manipulation".
    Links to similar theories, topics would be helpful.
  7. Aug 18, 2015 #6
    Like Ryan said, it isn't all gathered in one place. That's because it is never the primary thing going on, but is either a tool for some other goal, or symptomatic of some more primary social or mental problem.

    If you are interested in people who exhibit a pathological penchant for manipulative deception you should check out Bipolar Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder. I think those three always have manipulative deception as part of their description. There's also Munchausen Syndrome, and the confabulation found in some amnesias and dementias that can present as deception. Outside of mental illness your best source would be under the heading of politics.
  8. Sep 15, 2015 #7
    You might want to look up on "Neuro-linguistic programming" and Cybernetics IF you are looking at the largest scale(where real world applications occur). There are various scientific methods being used to control population demographics, one main easy to see example is advertising and "buyers behavior".

    It is my understanding that most of the real world practical stuff being used out there is by intelligent agencies and other propaganda conglomerates, I don't think your go to psychologist would have all the clues about how to influence and sway public opinion.

    Also don't forget that marketing or even stocks, power and warfare reliy heavily on deception.
  9. Sep 25, 2015 #8
    It is a very broad term, remember that you could describe all forms of communication as an attempt to influence another in some way. Social psychologists, cognitive psychologists and clinical psychologists would all look at the issue slightly differently. Consider interpersonal theories, social skills, empathy, propaganda, social influence, self deception, self presentation etc. Try to stick to the psychological theories with a good evidence base, quite a few are very "iffy".
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook