If you've ever told a lie and felt uncomfortable because you see yourself as scrupulously honest, then you've experienced cognitive dissonance. It occurs when your ideas, beliefs, or behaviors contradict each other: if, for example, you see yourself as smart but can't believe you made such dumb stock investments. Exactly how we choose to resolve the dissonance (and its accompanying discomfort) is a good reflection of our mental health. In fact, cognitive dissonance can be a great opportunity for growth.

Recent posts on Cognitive Dissonance


Cognitive Healing from Childhood Abuse

One challenge of recovery from childhood abuse lies in this cognitive dissonance between what an abused child comes to believe as true and the truth of the broader world.

"Know Thyself" Is Not Just Silly Advice

By Bence Nanay Ph.D. on February 13, 2018 in Psychology Tomorrow
"Know thyself" seems like common, even silly advice. However, it also might prevent people from embracing change in their lives.

"What Are You?" A Legacy of Laws of Segregation

By Rupert W Nacoste Ph.D. on February 07, 2018 in A Quiet Revolution
No human being should ever be asked, “what are you?” When that is asked, the problem is with a person’s too intense psychological need to pin down someone’s race.

How to Hack an Election: An Intelligence Analysis

By Eric Haseltine Ph.D. on February 06, 2018 in Long Fuse, Big Bang
How Moscow gets to vote on main street.
Wikimedia Commons

On Religious Certainty, Violence and War

How is it that the people who hold the highest ideals of love and brotherhood fall prey to divisiveness and hatred? What is it about religion that pairs it so closely to violence?

Homer Simpson as Parent

Humor is very often a sneaky way to engage with cultural and moral issues that would meet with resistance if they were discussed in a more serious way.

Sigmund Freud Hated America: 5 Reasons Why

As a boy, Freud hung a copy of the Declaration of Independence in his room and memorized the Gettysburg Address. As an adult, he came to loathe everything American.

Shea Butter or Accutane?

Where do you get your medical information? What do you do when different kinds of practitioners tell you different, even opposite, things? Whom do you trust? Why?

The Seeds of Cultural Change

What can we learn about masculinity from the sexual harassment scandals dominating the media world?

New Year’s Resolution: Do Something to Promote Civil Society

By Kyle D Killian Ph.D., LMFT on December 30, 2017 in Intersections
Civic responsibility is about having standards about what “information” we consume and promote by sharing. So share wisely. Our democracy, and civil society, depend on it.

Top 10 Cool Psychological Research Findings

Research in the field of psychology has led to a landslide of surprising findings about behavior over the years. Here are 10 such findings to give you pause.

Santa Claus Is No Longer Coming to Town

Should you be sad when your child discovers the truth? A different way of looking at your child's growing mind.

Rethinking Authenticity

Being authentic does not mean standing alone; it means making worthy judgments about the people one chooses to stand with.

You Can’t Make Someone “Care”

Five things you can do if you find yourself in a relationship where you think you can to make your partner care but they don’t respond.

Cognitive Dissonance and the Franken Sexual Misconduct Case

By Shawn M. Burn Ph.D. on November 18, 2017 in Presence of Mind
Democrats and feminists must honestly grapple with the uncomfortable feelings generated by the Franken case.

Roy Moore's Systemic Danger to Our Democracy

By Gleb Tsipursky Ph.D. on November 16, 2017 in Intentional Insights
Concerned about Roy Moore? This post shows how his accusations are a systemic danger to our democracy.

Stars Who Sexually Harass and Fans Who Love and Hate Them

By Karen E. Dill-Shackleford Ph.D. on November 14, 2017 in How Fantasy Becomes Reality
How do we deal with it when someone we love does something we hate?

The Truth About Fake Health News

How to tell real from fake health news.

6 Things an Addict Will Never Tell You

By Amy Dresner on October 25, 2017 in Coming Clean
Want to know what active addicts aren't telling you? Here are 6 things they're probably lying about.


By Sara Gluck, PhD, LCSW on October 23, 2017 in Do Your Own Think
We may struggle to witness the sheer number of people who have posted #MeToo this week. Our responses to those disclosures do matter and can make an impact on the healing process.

The Existential Dread of Climate Change

Denying climate change is no solution. But is being fully aware of its consequences making us depressed?
Quick and Dirty Tips

Why Do We Self-Sabotage?

Do you find yourself repeatedly asking, "Why do I do this to myself?" You may be a victim of your own bad habits.
Angus Third Pounder/Adam Kuban/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Why Are Most of Us So Good at Deceiving Ourselves?

By Barb Cohen on October 08, 2017 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
Columbus, cognitive dissonance and autism shed light on our coping strategies.

4 Steps for Effective Social Media Arguments

By Todd B. Kashdan Ph.D. on October 02, 2017 in Curious?
Public shaming. Flame wars. Cultural wars. Here is a post that hopes to improve people's thoughts on how to disagree and argue well.

Cognitive Dissonance

What happens when you receive information or behave in a way that is totally contradictory to your beliefs? You experience cognitive dissonance.

45’s NFL Comments: A New Low for the American Presidency

By Kyle D Killian Ph.D., LMFT on September 26, 2017 in Intersections
Is the President's twitter habit wearing you out? Why his latest tirade, which he says isn't about race, really is.

Hope Versus Depression

By Mario D Garrett Ph.D. on September 24, 2017 in iAge
Could depression benefit from viewing hope as an illusion, and that depression reflects the reality of life? Could depression be a sense of realism closer to the truth?

Our Worst Angels: Inconvenient Psychological Truths, Part 2

By Noam Shpancer Ph.D. on August 30, 2017 in Insight Therapy
We fancy ourselves rational and independent, eager to learn and adapt. But are we?

Excuse Me! How Rationalizing Weakens Relationships

Regardless of how good an excuse seems, it will usually aggravate problems rather than resolve them.

Five Steps in Forming Irrational Beliefs

By Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. on August 15, 2017 in Science of Choice
Most of our core beliefs about the world are not based on rational and conscious choices.