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

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

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.

Donald Trump and Muhammad Ali: Birds of a Feather

By Steven Berglas Ph.D. on February 02, 2017 in Executive Ego
Who's the executive in the White House? The phallic-aggressive man obsessed with putting-down Arnold Schwarzenegger? A man who lauds men and women in the military? Both? Both!

Seeing Is Believing: Religion, Madness, & Mechanism

Mentalism conflicts with mechanism in both religion and art.

The Brain Can Work Against Abuse Victims

By Rhonda Freeman Ph.D. on January 18, 2017 in NeuroSagacity
The neurochemistry of love and attachment, particularly in the presence of abuse, can seal a victim to a grim future with a malignant partner.

The True Odds of Shooting a Bad Guy With a Gun

By Thomas Hills Ph.D. on January 12, 2017 in Statistical Life
Two out of three people who use a gun use it to shoot themselves. If you buy a gun and you feel the need to use it, duck!

New Research Shows Why People Believe False Information

By Douglas LaBier Ph.D. on December 31, 2016 in The New Resilience
How your brain retrieves information explains the persistence of believing falsehoods.

Maybe If I Was Younger...

By Dawn R. Norris, Ph.D. on December 28, 2016 in The Next Step
Adopting age stereotypes into our identities can lead to work-related problems.

Truthiness and Consent

At times we all need the refuge of "truthiness." But when it comes to health and our origins, knowing is better than not knowing.

How Cognitive Dissonance Relates to Relationships

By Ryan Anderson on December 14, 2016 in The Mating Game
Just why is it that people choose to stay in abusive relationships? The psychological concept of cognitive dissonance can explain a lot of our seemingly bizarre behaviour

Elfwick's Law

By Robert J King Ph.D. on December 12, 2016 in Hive Mind
There is nothing new about a post-truth world. Humans have always wanted to let their hearts rule their heads

We Are All More Fact-Free Than We’d Like to Think

By Michael Karson Ph.D., J.D. on December 08, 2016 in Feeling Our Way
Facts are opinions held by the right people.

A Simple Trick to Turn Holiday Pain Into Pleasure

By Eric Haseltine Ph.D. on December 06, 2016 in Long Fuse, Big Bang
It is free, fast and doesn’t involve medication

Not All Empathy Is the Same

Believing that the power of empathy can be harnessed by perspective-taking alone is itself a false belief.

Are Your Morals Reasonable?

By Rob Henderson on November 14, 2016 in After Service
Are your morals based on reason? Research suggests they might not be.

The Curse of Power

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on November 11, 2016 in A Swim in Denial
Why does victory bring such strange and disturbing reactions?

The Gloataholics’ Binge Continues

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on November 09, 2016 in Ambigamy
Winaholics are people so addicted to feeling right and righteous that they'll turn everything upside down to feel that way.

Vote for Your Own Character

Voters arrive at their decision to vote for a candidate in different ways. After the election, we should respect the decisions of others as coming from different perspectives.

Proven Ways to Change Someone's Mind

Days out from the 2016 presidential election, is it possible to change someone's mind?

Identity as Defense and Partisan Animosity

By Michael Karson Ph.D., J.D. on November 01, 2016 in Feeling Our Way
When Democratic and Republican politicians assure us that we are the living equivalent of Jesus or Caesar, respectively, it is tempting to believe them.

Cognitive Dissonance and Addiction

By Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. on October 29, 2016 in Science of Choice
Cognitive dissonance is a case of detecting our own hypocrisy, and hypocrisy is a powerful motivation for finding justifications (excuses) for our action.

Political Persuasion: Aim for the Heart, Not the Head

So long as a message is emotionally congruent and consistent, both fear and hope can be equally pervasive.

Why Men Grope Women

Compared to a woman paralyzed or befuddled by being groped, the man may feel like master of the universe.