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Reading the famous quote of Oliver Sacks, can we draw conclusions about liars?

"We speak not only to tell other people what we think, but to tell ourselves what we think. Speech is a part of thought." [Oliver Sacks]

If speech is part of thought, then maybe liars can begin making fallacious thoughts in the long run?

Is there scientific evidence that suggests that speech affects thinking, possibly in relation to (pathological) liars?

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  • $\begingroup$ I have seen this, but it's anecdotal observations. It may be that those who do not lie to themselves are more ina sociopathic direction, since they exercise a kind of malice. 'Plain liars' are, in a way, innocent of that kind of connivery. Also, welcome to CogSci.SE $\endgroup$ – New Alexandria Sep 13 '13 at 12:59
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    $\begingroup$ Warren Buffett, the master investor opined, "the CEO who lies to others in public will eventually start lying to himself in private." If a behavior becomes too ingrained, it becomes hard to control. $\endgroup$ – Tom Au Sep 13 '13 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ @NewAlexandria- I wish you could elaborate your thesis. $\endgroup$ – Ramit Sep 14 '13 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ This question, due to the way it's phrased, is primarily opinion-based. If you were to reduce it to clinical terms, like whether self-deception is common in pathological liars, it would be acceptable. $\endgroup$ – Seanny123 Jun 8 '16 at 21:05
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    $\begingroup$ Words and grammar comprise a framework for categorising thoughts, or in other words relating current thoughts to previous thoughts and understandings of self and others. When we put our thoughts into words, we encode those thoughts into a more memorable and transferable format. By speaking in falsehoods, a liar may be better able to remember those falsehoods, but this does not mean the liar believes them more. A fiction storyteller also puts falsehoods into words but knows reality from fiction. I postulate that an accurate answer depends on a particular liar's reason for lying. $\endgroup$ – Michael Jun 14 '16 at 2:59
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Although I cannot answer the question on lying, (self-)speech and thinking are intimately linked to each-other, and actually used in UX-design (e.g. Krahmer, 2004). He compared two different approaches of thinking-aloud. In other words, people are perfectly able to verbalize their thoughts and actually do so.

One of the approaches he compares is a proposal of Ericsson and Simon (1993). In their nice and brief paper, they discuss (and refer to) many scientific papers (e.g. cognitive scientific and psychological) where self-speech is used during problem solving. Moreover, it showed that self-speech is related to other variables that correspond to thoughts.

In their review, Ericsson and Simon (1993) found that [[...]] there seemed to be close correspondence between subjects’ thoughts and what information that they looked at--when subjects verbalized thoughts about objects in the environment they very frequently looked at them.

I must admit that self-speech in this way is only used as a methods of identifying cognitive processes, and is often a mandated task in the experiment. However, the fact that people are able to reflect on their thoughts, gives me reason to believe that they can do so unconsciously too. If someone could correct me or confirm this, I invite you to do so.

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  • $\begingroup$ I undid the part of your edit of the question where you changed "speech" to "self-speech". Self-speech (or self-talk) can be interpreted as "thinking", "thinking out loud", or "talking about ones self", so naturally they are intimately linked. I do think the OP's original intent (based on the quote) was to focus on speech to others, which is different. Unfortunately, this does make your answer less relevant to the original question. $\endgroup$ – Arnon Weinberg Nov 11 '16 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ No problem. Already figured ;) $\endgroup$ – Robin Kramer Nov 12 '16 at 7:50
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It is my belief that liars inclined to lie to them selves. Freudian psychology can illustrate this point through the concept of the ego-sensor. Liars can be compelled to lie to themselves in order to protect the ego. Thereby, preserving their sense of identity. This usually occurs in the form of denial, detachment, or reattribution. I do not believe that they intentionally lie to themselves nor do I find that to be possible. Still I've found that the ego will do anything to protect it self when feeling threatened.

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Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    $\begingroup$ This answer seems to be primarily opinion based, which is frowned upon on CogSci.SE. Adding references to studies to support your personal impressions would greatly improve the quality of your answer. $\endgroup$ – Seanny123 Jul 1 '16 at 16:27
  • $\begingroup$ Since this stack relates to cognitive science I presumed that basic Freudian concepts could be accepted on as given and wouldn't get frowned on. Perhaps my wording was misleading. The base of my opinion is the ego-sensor as given in Freuds publication from 1900: "The interpretation of dreams", specifically the sections referring to latent dream content of which he describes as being suppressed by the unconscious mind to protect to ego $\endgroup$ – user3302435 Jul 1 '16 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ Freud has had an amazing impact on Pscychology and Cognitive Science, However, nowadays his theories are largely outdated and have been disputed, or have been refined by neo-freudians. Having some more recent literature that may back up Freud's beliefs is much appreciated. $\endgroup$ – Robin Kramer Jul 2 '16 at 6:41
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    $\begingroup$ Just found a website that has some references to back up MY claim that Freud is outdated. $\endgroup$ – Robin Kramer Jul 2 '16 at 6:49
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    $\begingroup$ And I agree with you, but you need to back your claims with some literature you have. Otherwise, it is difficult to verify the validity of your answer, and it makes it hard to do further research if one is interested. $\endgroup$ – Robin Kramer Jul 3 '16 at 7:58
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Well practiced liars often convince themselves of their own lie, it being an alternate truth for them. When you are convinced that a lie is the real truth and that truth is either mellowed or expanded upon an original truth it becomes much easier to tell that false reality to others. When you know someone is lying it's usually because of involuntary movements such as rapid eye movement, quivering, or just that look in their eyes. If a well practiced liar removed or subdued those warning signals and reduced nervousness by making themselves believe their own lie, there will be no or less fidgeting and anxious movements. It is also beneficial for liar to convince themselves of their false truth so that they can repeat the same story or explanation when its needed. They also always keep a lie simple and concise, and only volunteer extra information when they anticipate the next interrogative inquiry. If they offer the information up front it becomes more believable but at the same time, if they lie up a life story leading up to this moment you would think, "Whoa, this is way too much information, what are they hiding?" But yet too little information leads to the same result of someone wondering if the lying person is holding something back or not telling the whole truth. If a true liar can convince them self that their lie is in fact reality it becomes much easier to tell that truth. Say, with a polygraph machine, aka the lie detector. If that person cant hide their anxiety or nervousness the machine will detect those emotions and start spiking off the grid.

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Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    $\begingroup$ This answer seems to be primarily opinion based, which is frowned upon on CogSci.SE. Adding references to studies to support your personal impressions would greatly improve the quality of your answer. $\endgroup$ – Robin Kramer Jul 2 '16 at 6:36

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