Self-deception in public relations. A psychological and sociological approach to the challenge of conflicting expectations.

Jens Seiffert-Brockmann, Kerstin Thummes

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


The paper enquires into the role of self-deception in public relations struggling with discrepancies between heterogeneous stakeholder expectations and organizational interests and particularly between normative expectations of truthfulness and practical temptations of deception. Drawing on theoretical foundations of evolutionary psychology and sociology, we propose a framework for the origins, drivers, and functions of self-deception in public relations. The analysis reveals that under specific conditions self-deception can be an essential mechanism in public relations because it relieves practitioners from tensions driven by conflicting perceptions of truth and legitimacy. Self-deception is most likely to occur in situations of cognitive dissonance for practitioners to balance internal information processing and in situations of normative pressure when practitioners seek to comply with external expectations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133 - 144
JournalPublic Relations Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 508007 Communication science
  • 508014 Journalism

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