The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Selective Amnesia Or Trumps Escaping The Lies


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In May of 2016, Forbes published a piece about a psychological phenomenon called "Unethical Amnesia." The basics of the phenomenon are: (Forbes May 2016, "Unethical Amnesia: We Tend To forget Our Own Bad Behavior")
  • people genuinely do tend to forget the details of their own transgressions.
  • engaging in bad behavior affects the memory such that memories of those unethical actions gradually become less clear than other memories
  • “Unethical behavior creates psychological distress and discomfort, and unethical amnesia lowers it.”
I will admit to serious skepticism regarding 'Unethical Amnesia." It seems more plausible that people who are basically dishonest and who tend to lie profusely (as does Donald Trump) literally speak extemporaneously (for the moment) without any level of contemplation of what comes out of the mouth; as long as it sounds good and, or, pleases a minion laden audience. Despite my skepticism, the prospect of Trump's suffering from Unethical Amnesia is worthy of a few minutes of contemplation.

Forbes linked.  PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States) study link (from which I have posted a few paragraphs just below).

Study excerpt

...Despite the common belief people hold that they are more ethical and fairer than others (5) and their strong desire to maintain a positive self-image, when facing the opportunity to act unethically, they often do so, if only by a little bit (16). Because people hold an overly positive view of their morality but consistently fail to live up to this standard, they experience psychological discomfort after behaving dishonestly and engage in various strategies to alleviate this dissonance and reduce their distress. For instance, individuals come up with justifications for their unethical behavior to distance themselves from it (7) or view it as morally permissible—for example, by dehumanizing the victims of their dishonesty (8). That is, they recode their action by morally disengaging. In fact, people’s unethical acts lead them to disengage morally by judging wrongdoing as less morally problematic than they would otherwise (7). Additionally, to reduce the psychological discomfort experienced after committing unethical acts, people use a double-distancing mechanism, judging others’ transgressions more harshly than their own and presenting themselves as more virtuous and ethical in comparison (9).
Another strategy people use, we suggest, is forgetting the details of their unethical actions over time. Such information, in fact, threatens their moral self-image and creates distress. An extensive body of research has documented that people actively forget some of their past behavior when doing so is convenient or makes them feel good (10). In the case of dishonesty, laboratory studies show that guilty participants can suppress retrieval of their crimes when instructed to do so. In fact, in such situations the brain activity of those who committed crimes is indistinguishable from that of innocent people (1112).
More generally, we argue, people experience what we refer to as “unethical amnesia”: Their memory of their past unethical behavior becomes less clear, less detailed, and less vivid over time than their memory of their ethical actions and of actions unrelated to ethics. Because people value morality and want to maintain a positive moral self-image (5) but often act dishonestly when facing the temptation to behave unethically (6), they are motivated to forget the details of their actions so that they can keep thinking of themselves as honest individuals. Previous findings suggest that the motivation to forget an event can disrupt the encoding of that event and reduces a person’s ability to recall that event in the future (10). In addition, people forget negative emotional events more easily than neutral ones (10). Thus, when people want forget a certain event, their memory of the details of the event is more likely to be impaired than when they do not have such a desire or intend to remember the event. In the case of unethical behavior, this desire to forget may lead people not to think about their unethical actions very often. As a result, they feel better (e.g., their discomfort is lower later on) and can maintain their moral self-concept intact. In addition, their memories of such actions become fuzzier over time.
To examine whether people experience unethical amnesia, we conducted nine studies that use a variety of methods and sample populations. In our studies, we compare people’s memory for their unethical acts with their memory of other events, including neutral, negative, and positive ones, and with their memory of others’ unethical actions. Our results show that people’s memory for their unethical actions is impaired and offer an explanation for why people repeatedly engage in dishonest behavior over time.

Duly noted, interesting, but fails to explain Trump's lies and his subsequent appearance of forgetfulness.

AOL recently published a piece with the prospect of Trump's forgetfulness regarding his promises to Carrier regarding shipping jobs to Mexico: 'Unethical amnesia' could explain some of Donald Trump's forgetfulness.

The prospect of a psychological state referred to as "unethical Amnesia" while intriguing indices a bit of dissonance for me. What about the reality of Trump as a serial liar who fact-checkers to the fact-checking company found lies over 90% of the time. 

Trump's Politifact Scorecard


Start-Tribune

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US UNCut

Image result for trump fact check meme


PNAS research study aside a reality and with full acceptance the 'amnesia' may affect some, Trump is not a candidate for such a rational prospect. Trump, the serial liar, operates at a level of ethics (or the lack thereof) which probably doesn't lend to the scope of the amnesia study. Trump's forgetfulness may be much more the by-product of copious (first thought to tell a lie) disregard for the truth. If we bundle Trump's disregard for the truth with without question success throughout his life resultant from his lying and mix it with millions of celebrity worshipping minions, we have America circa 2016/17.

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