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 whenever your view of yourself clashes with your performance in any area—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

The Holidays and Cognitive Dissonance

Merry shmerry. Six Ways To Survive Until January 2nd.

The Meaning of Life

By Fredric Neuman M.D. on November 26, 2015 Fighting Fear
Description of the Discovery of the Meaning of Life! Including from the perspective of a frog

Romance Is Bad for Our Mental Health

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on November 17, 2015 Ambigamy
The tendency to treat life's rough, uncertain ride as romantic fiction runs and ruins our personal and social lives. Romance ignores chance in favor of fate, probabilities in favor of certainties, details in favor of destinies. It glorifies us and vilifies anyone who gets in our way. It turns love into a sugar high and crash and makes a mess of politics.

Neuroscientific Prediction and Free Will

By Gregg D. Caruso Ph.D. on October 26, 2015 Unjust Deserts
Is free will compatible with the perfect neuroscientific prediction of all human choices?

How to End Debates Without Burning Bridges

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on October 10, 2015 Ambigamy
Five simple tips for ending conversations with your integrity and rapport intact.

What Is a Democracy?

By Ken Eisold Ph.D. on October 10, 2015 Hidden Motives
Jimmy Carter's shocking statement about our democracy disappeared in the media

It’s Not Your Mother’s Aspirin

By Mark Borigini M.D. on September 17, 2015 Overcoming Pain
Of course, there are concerns surrounding the worried not-so-well: those individuals who live off of chocolate chip cookies, who consider bending over to pick up the morning newspaper their exercise for the day, and who will now think that taking an aspirin a day bestows immortality.

The Runaway Train in Our Heads

By Kaja Perina on September 03, 2015 Brainstorm
Part of the nature of obsession is that you cannot easily obtain sufficient distance from it: The thoughts, worries, and compulsions feel utterly overwhelming.

Earth to Humans: Why Have You Forsaken Me? Discredence

By Kenneth Worthy Ph.D. on August 31, 2015 The Green Mind
What are the psychological roadblocks that explain why we’re not doing much to solve global climate change—a phenomenon that threatens the core of our society? This is the fifth installment in a seven-part series.

Your Three Languages and How to Speak Them Well

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on August 24, 2015 Ambigamy
There's a lot of confusion about when it's best to be positive, negative and neutral. Here we sort it out.

The History and Psychology of Warrior Women

Warrior Women, Archetype, History, Psychology

Is Extreme Weather an 'Act of God'?

Researchers from Northwestern University, University of Arizona and Stanford University, have recently published an investigation into first-hand accounts from survivors of two major natural disasters--Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Chilean earthquake in 2010. Describing the disasters as an 'Act of God' was among the most common explanations.

Fear of Flying: Suffering From Imagination

Some of us can set improbably disaster aside. Others require it to be impossible. When uncertain, we are bothered by things that bothered us during childhood: being alone, powerless, not responded to, and unable to escape.

Hunting Bwana the Dentist

What would motivate a dentist to spend $55,000 to kill an elderly tourist lion? The answer takes us on a psychological safari looking at recent themes in American life that incite and reward fantasies of the mighty hunter.

Psych Write: Psychology Can Make Sense and Be Fun to Read!

Authors trying to write about psychology for general audiences may err by writing the same way they would write journal articles, or they may err by writing too casually. These tips can help students, psych pros, journalists, bloggers, and water cooler conversationalists achieve the right balance while clearly talking about psychology. Jargon is good. Really, it is.

The Tendency to Smugness in the Culture of Psychology

I hope your first thought about overt anger is that something unjust has happened and not that someone is too emotional or being mean.

What I Learned From 2,000 Hours Of Freudian Psychoanalysis

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on July 06, 2015 Ambigamy
Everything I learned from long psychoanalysis, distilled to nine bullet points. Can you learn it just by reading the list? Probably not but you may be learning it anyway.

4 Signs That Your Relationship May Be Over

Deciding to end a relationship can be anguishing. Some suggestions for when it's time to pull to plug and when to slow down

Should Couples Share Their Sexual Fantasies?

Sexual fantasies excite the imagination—and sometimes are better left there.

How Do You Feel About Giving Human Rights to Corporations?

By Ruth Lee Johnson J.D. on June 26, 2015 So Sue Me
People do not realize this, but the United States Supreme Court has been treating corporations increasingly like human beings — by giving them fundamental rights. Is this crazy? Is this dangerous?

ISIS and the Victim Mentality

The mass murders committed by ISIS are widely called incomprehensible. But mass murder has been around since the beginning of mankind. Shouldn't psychology be able to comprehend such a common phenomenon? It can, indeed, make sense of it. However, it requires abandoning the popular anti-bully model of social life and recognize the role of the victim mentality.

Regret And Worry: A User’s Guide

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on May 31, 2015 Ambigamy
Regret and worry have their place. Here's some background on them, helpful to keeping them in their place.

Live "As If," Not "If Only" -- Now is All You've Got

As much as individuals like to lament how life might be "if only" things had been different, it is much more empowering to live your life "as if" you were the person you know you are meant to be!

Tom Brady Broke the Rules, But Don't We All?

Before we tie Tom Brady to the whipping post, perhaps we should think about the times we bent, finessed, or massaged the rules for our own benefit.

How Young Is Too Young?

Do you remember feeling pressure as a child to do better at school, fit in socially, or behave more appropriately? Making the right decision was not always as easy as adults and cheerful children's books sometimes painted it. Luckily, stumbling slow motion through a decade or so of dysfunctional days (aka natural childhood development) was an expected and accepted part...

When Do Religious Values Harm Children? When Do They Help?

When children's mental health is put in danger because of religious intolerance, there are good reasons for mental health professionals to argue for what's right. Gay-straight alliances save children's lives. And religious tolerance for practices like the wearing of a niqab improves social cohesion.

Online Dating: The Dark Side

By Martin Graff Ph.D. on February 25, 2015 Love, Digitally
These people use devious psychological ploys. Have you ever been suspicious about an online relationship?


By G.A. Bradshaw Ph.D. on February 21, 2015 Bear in Mind
A beautiful new book, "Turning Points in Compassion," shows that the animal rights movement has come of age. Through the moving and informative narratives of animal advocates around the world, we discover that underneath the relentless hand of animal exploitation, a new paradigm of "radical kindness" has emerged.

Is It Irrational to Decide to Have Children?

People choose to have children on the grounds of mistaken beliefs. And we can’t really blame them. Cognitive dissonance, or what is better known as self-deception, leads people who already have kids to testify to the great wonders of parenthood.