Self-deception is related to social desirability but in this case respondents do not deviate from the truth consciously but rather because they also deceive themselves (and not just the researcher). As Hopkins et al. (1990, p. 312) point out, human defense mechanisms "cushion failures, minimize faults, and maximize virtues so that we maintain a sense of personal worth." People with personality problems might simply be unable to give an accurate self-description, but the problem of self-delusion may be present on a more general scale, though to a lesser degree, affecting many other people.

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