Deception includes the range of means whereby people may be mislead. The most evident of these is lying. But it also includes withholding information which the person might find of immediate significance, as well as misleading the person into some alternative belief, or reinforcing such a belief. Then then are the more marginal forms of deception, such as evasion, euphemism and exaggeration; and the often unconscious forms of deception (without intention to mislead), such as the subtle changes of subject, the disguises, the gestures leading astray, and silence and inaction.
Individuals differ greatly in the relationship with deception in their lives. Some may declare their preference for honesty but be ignorant about deception and its alternatives, or lack any awareness of the presence of a moral problem in the first place; others are beyond caring. There are differences in the power of individuals to live a life without deceit given their environment. Many lack sufficient freedoms and security from repercussions should they challenge deeply-rooted habits of duplicity. The stress on individualism and competition generate intense pressures to cut corners and produces motives which may impel many to participate in forms of deception they might otherwise resist.
It is widely recognized that there are cases in which considerable harm can be done by supplying a questioner with the information he requested, or which he would find significant. This justifies withholding such information and thus misleading the person.