在当前就业市场的竞争和经济状况下，对个人背景润润色的状况绝不少见。实际上，据戴尔卡耐基培训学校（Dale Carnegie Training）副总裁迈克尔•克罗姆称，雇主发现简历中公然说谎的数量正在增加，比如改变雇佣日期以掩盖空档期或者罗列一些夸大的职责。
从波士顿郊区一所小型天主教学院获得的一个学位可远不如硅谷办公室内充斥的哈佛（Harvard）或斯坦福（Stanford）文凭那般闪亮。因此，汤普森或许感到他需要一个科技学位作为自己的优势。唐纳德•川普和川普房地产公司（Donald Trump and the Trump Organization）顾问理查德•S•伯恩斯坦恩说：“如今的世界竞争如此激烈。如果你没有读一流的MBA，没有上一流的学校，没有良好的教育背景，人们就会看低你。”
“大脑总是不停地在跳舞，‘我如何才能得到更多我想要的东西，同时又不违背自己的本性，’”Grey Matters Intl.的凯文•弗莱明称。Grey Matters Intl.是一家基于神经科学的高管发展和培训公司，总部位于怀俄明州Jackson Hole以及俄克拉荷马州塔尔萨。“大脑总是在不断消除这种不和谐。”
In this competitive job market and economy, credential embellishing is far from rare. In fact, employers are seeing an increase in the number of outright lies on resumes, such as changing employment dates to hide an employment gap or listing enhanced responsibilities, according to Michael Crom, vice president at Dale Carnegie Training.
"With the higher levels of unemployment and the increased competition to get a few jobs, people begin to exaggerate and outright lie on their resumes," says Crom. Half of all resumes contain at least one inaccuracy, whether deliberate or inadvertent, according to several studies.
A degree from a small Catholic college outside Boston doesn't quite have the same shimmer as the Harvard and Stanford diplomas littering Silicon Valley offices, so Thompson might have felt he needed the edge of a technology degree. "Today's business world is so competitive. If you don't have the right MBA, didn't go to the right school, don't have the right educational background, people look down on you," says Richard S. Bernstein, an adviser to Donald Trump and the Trump Organization.
Once you tell a lie, and leave it uncorrected long enough, you can start to believe it's true. "People start saying something enough that they start believing it themselves," says David Reiss, a psychiatrist based in San Diego.
"Looking back on the history of these people, the pattern started before they were powerful. They got into the habit of inflating things out of lack of confidence," Reiss says. "Once they got to a higher level, if they've gotten away with it, they think they'll never get caught."
Once executives reach the top levels of management, they can become surrounded by sycophants, start believing their own accolades, and lose sight of the truth. "You have to be able to hold people accountable. What happens with leaders is there's nobody who is speaking truth to power," says David Gebler, president of Skout Group in Boston, which helps organizations manage people and culture based risks. "They've got themselves locked into a world where they really believe they're not doing anything wrong."
We all have the tendency to rationalize behavior that falls in an ethical or moral grey area, and many of us stretch that line to cover outright lies. We're wired to adjust the narrative of our actions to align with our identity. If we believe we're fundamentally honest people, we will rationalize our behavior to ourselves as ethical -- regardless of how it looks to an impartial observer.
"The brain is doing this constant dance of, 'How do I get more of what I want while holding onto the identity that I think I actually have,' " says Kevin Fleming, owner of Grey Matters Intl., a neuroscience-based executive development and coaching firm based in Jackson Hole, Wyo. and Tulsa, Okla. "The brain is always wired to reduce dissonance."