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

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.

Four Reasons Women Cheat on Their Partners

Faithfulness to one’s partner is at the bedrock of most committed relationships. A recent study shows how women justify the cognitive dissonance caused by having an affair.

Failure to Listen

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on August 04, 2017 in How To Do Life
A short-short story about suppression and commitment bias.

A White Man and a Black Woman Talk About Race

Do you find yourself avoiding conversations about race for fear of saying the wrong thing? Follow one man's example of how to do the race conversation right.

Values Can Be a Conduit to Recovery

By Dan Mager MSW on July 27, 2017 in Some Assembly Required
Contentment, like recovery, is an inside job. It comes from making choices that are healthy and helpful, and in alignment with our values.

Why Your Relationship Isn't As "Complicated" As You Think

By Jen Kim on July 17, 2017 in Valley Girl With a Brain
How #FakeNews infiltrates our romantic relationships

The Bronx Hospital Shooter: A Chronic Catathymic Crisis?

Who shoots up a workplace two years after being fired? Someone who is obsessed with that incident, who has ruminated about it, and fantasized about revenge.

Black Hearts and Punishing Prostitutes

What do playing cards with red spades and black hearts have to do with your desire to punish people or to defend your political views?

Recognizing and Accepting Psychological Distress

By Elyssa Barbash Ph.D. on June 27, 2017 in Trauma and Hope
It is very common for high-functioning individuals to brush-off symptoms of psychological distress, but addressing these difficulties can yield many positive benefits.

What Drives Suicidal Mass Murderers?

Three recent mass killings by suicidal gunmen reveal the deadly effects of individuals caught up in a catathymic crisis.

The "Battered Voter" Syndrome

By Karl Albrecht Ph.D. on June 04, 2017 in BrainSnacks
The "battered spouse" syndrome has a counterpart in a "battered voter" syndrome, if people hold a dependent attachment to an "ideological package" inimical to their own interests.

Let Them Eat Mushrooms

The President’s trashing of the Paris Accord on climate change as a “job killer” was fittingly simultaneous with the CDC report of a outbreak of mushroom poisoning.
Carl Pickhardt Ph.D.

How to Tell When Your Child Has Started Adolescence

Accustomed to parenting a child, it can be hard for parents admit when childhood is over and parenting an adolescent has begun.

Conspiracy Pathology

Conspiracy theories shade into mental illness, as in the dream that destroyed David Crowley and family. The ambiguity that gives conspiracy thinking power also invites delusion.

How to Think Our Way Out of a Nightmare Future

Think The Handmaid's Tale is a little too close to home? Maybe it's time we all took stock of these bad habits.

The High Cost of Receptivity

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on April 11, 2017 in Ambigamy
Don't pretend that you're exceptionally ready to change your mind.

Money Laundering for the Soul

By Noam Shpancer Ph.D. on April 05, 2017 in Insight Therapy
What explains our ability to suspend our moral principles and inflict cruelty on others, in clear violation of the moral principles we claim to espouse?

Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, and the Reasons We Blame Victims

In May of 2016, actress Amber Heard accused her husband Johnny Depp of hitting her and assaulting her. She posted pictures of injuries to her face and filed for divorce.

On Race and the Internet

By Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. on March 30, 2017 in Media Spotlight
While the Internet has long been seen as the last bastion of free speech where anyone could post comments without fear, the dark side of this freedom is also apparent

The Dumbing Down of America, Part 1

In the age of alternative facts and erroneous tweets, many say, "Our institutions will save us.” To these complacent folks, I say, “It is up to us to save our institutions."

Addiction and Self-Deception

Why do addicts hold on to false beliefs about their use?

The Brain Science of Political Deception in the Election

Confused by why so many people were deceived in the 2016 election? This article uses recent research to provide some clarity.

Donald Trump and Addictive Behaviors, Part II

By Stanton Peele on March 24, 2017 in Addiction in Society
Donald Trump's behavior in the aftermath of defeat is even more worrying than his bullying and gloating in victory.

The Self Illusion and Psychotherapy

By Steve Stankevicius M.D. on March 21, 2017 in The Skeptical Shrink
The self is an illusion and, as I noted in a recent paper published in Australasian Psychiatry, we can tailor psychotherapy to highjack the mechanisms that create it.

52 Ways to Show I Love You: Observing

Observation permits us to use our inner scientist to discover how our behavior affects our loved one, as well as how we experience others' attempts to show love.

We're Wired to Take the Path of Least Resistance

By Caroline Beaton on March 11, 2017 in The Gen-Y Guide
A recently-published study discovered something we knew but denied: we're wired to take the path of least resistance.

A Crisis of Noise - Messages To/From Our Brains

By Po Chi Wu Ph.D. on February 28, 2017 in Jacob's Staff
Confusion and overwhelm reign! Our brains are battlegrounds where messages are vying for attention. What can we believe? Our physical, mental, and emotional health are at stake.
Gage Skidmore

The Science of Solving Alternative Facts

By Gleb Tsipursky Ph.D. on February 10, 2017 in Intentional Insights
Worried about the dominance of "alternative facts" in politics? This article has some tips for solving this problem!

The Persona of Donald J. Trump

By Saul Levine M.D. on February 04, 2017 in Our Emotional Footprint
President Donald J. Trump is a remarkably provocative individual, attracting support and adoration from millions, while inciting derision and rage in equal numbers of others.

Questionable Study About Implanting False Memories

By David M. Allen M.D. on February 03, 2017 in A Matter of Personality
A study shown on "Nova" puts a subject in the position of having to call her parents liars. The experimenter ignores her behavior during the study in drawing conclusions.