Lies, Damn Lies, and Role Playing

Wed, 28 Feb 1996 10:48:04 -0600 (CST)

I wish to applaud Tim Connor's comment that construing is a
*process* and therefore we cannot understand lying through a
socratic, static lens. As he notes, there is "no authentic,
'essential' self to discover." I might add that Kelly and Sartre
are similar on this piont: the notion of a person developing an
"identity" is problematic. [Kelly might say that personal
identity denies the changing process of construing; Sartre might
say that identity is being-in-itself, a manifestation of bad

Thus, it was surprising to read on to Connor's conclusion (in
regard to PCT and lying):
[PCT's notion that every action is an experiment] is not a
licence to be capricious--to adopt a role that is profoundly
incompatible with one's core structure is lying. But to
claim that one does not role-play because that would be
dishonest is also lying, by denying that one _always_
construes others [sic] constructions and adapts one's
behavior accordingly.
My problem with this conclusion is that it assumes that it is we
adopt a role in the first place, that it is optimal to attain a
fixed "core structure." This sounds suspiciously like the notion
of identity to me. Would it be too radical to suggest that
adopting a "role" or a "core structure" is itself an exercise in
self-deception and bad faith? The notion of constant role-
playing implies developing scripts for hypothesis testing -- far
too cognitive for a more experiential type like myself. If you
ask me, to role-play and test hypotheses in this manner is
several steps removed from experience. I would also ask the
question posed by Beverly Walker: Isn't role playing a lie in the
first place?
Timothy Anderson, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN 37240