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

Scientific Reasons Fans Still Hate Star Wars' Jar Jar Binks

Dr. John Paul Garrison pulls lessons from empirical science to discuss why people continue to express such irritation toward Star Wars prequel character Jar Jar Binks.

Is "Retroprognosis" a Word?

By Kaja Perina on February 01, 2016 Brainstorm
The snapshot depicted two boys years before tragedy struck; as such it was a momentary portal to an alternate reality in which the Unabomber never came into being.

Psychology in Making a Murderer

The most entrenched cognitive bias is in the direction of things we’ve already said and beliefs we’ve already acted on.

A Simple Conversation Trick That Motivates People to Change

Whether you want to motivate yourself or someone else to do something different, research says this little trick is really effective.

Buffalo Trump

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on January 23, 2016 A Swim in Denial
Do you feel conflicted about politics? Does political talk stress you out? The psychology of play can help.

Feeling Guilty About Back Pain Makes Everything Seem Worse

By Linda Wasmer Andrews on January 20, 2016 Minding the Body
People with chronic back pain often end up feeling guilty about it. And that guilt, in turn, is linked to increased depression, anxiety and disability.

Life Is Wonderful vs. Life Is Woeful

Our lives are confronted with both inspiration and desperation. How do we cope with these profoundly contrasting perspectives?

Over-reliance on High Tech May Have Caused a Sea Tragedy

High-tech hubris might lie at the heart of the sinking of a large US cargo ship and 33 crewmembers off the Bahamas last October

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.