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

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 in 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?

By Michael Castleman M.A. on July 02, 2015 in All About Sex
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 in 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

By Izzy Kalman on June 08, 2015 in Resilience to Bullying
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 in 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 We have

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?

By Mark Travers Ph.D. on May 14, 2015 in The Sports Mind
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 in Love, Digitally
These people use devious psychological ploys. Have you ever been suspicious about an online relationship?


By G.A. Bradshaw Ph.D., Ph.D. on February 21, 2015 in 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.

What Is Mindfulness and How Does It Work?

By Gregg Henriques on February 06, 2015 in Theory of Knowledge
Mindfulness is one of the most important developments in mental health in the past twenty years. Understand what it is and how it works.

The "Precarious Manhood" of the Santa Barbara Shooter

By Frank T McAndrew Ph.D. on February 02, 2015 in Out of the Ooze
Each new mass shooting prompts the same old explanations for the tragedy: the lack of attention paid to mental illness, the easy availability of guns, misogyny, and a socially-sanctioned sense of male entitlement. These explanations dance around the BIG question, which is why is it always a man who does this, and why is it almost always a young man?

What is Your Theory of the Person?

By Gregg Henriques on January 30, 2015 in Theory of Knowledge
Although human psychology started by trying to develop a theory of the person, that goal has largely been abandoned by the mainstream. But the question is an excellent one for all of us to consider, and one that human psychologists should not lose sight of.

My Mutual Fund Manager Is an Idiot

By John Nofsinger Ph.D. on January 08, 2015 in Mind on My Money
How you feel about a losing investment depends on who you can blame. Regret is strong when there is no one to blame but yourself. Cognitive dissonance plays a role too. Whether you need to avoid regret then drives what you do with the investment: buy, sell, or hold.

Why Cravings Occur

By Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. on January 07, 2015 in Science of Choice
For addicts, the trouble begins once they decide to give up the addiction.

Self-loathing in the Face of Facts

By Arthur Dobrin D.S.W. on December 15, 2014 in Am I Right?
Torture isn’t moral, so to admit that this was carried out in our name is to create cognitive dissonance.

Does a Big Wedding Lead to a Better Marriage?

By Scott M. Stanley Ph.D. on December 01, 2014 in Sliding vs. Deciding
Ever wonder if the size of a wedding matters for marital success? How could it? When it comes to weddings, size comes in at least two flavors: money spent and the number of guests. And it turns out there is an edge, for some, in larger weddings.

Why Change Management Fails

By Ray Williams on November 27, 2014 in Wired for Success
Most change management programs initiated by leaders in organizations fail. They fail fundamentally because it is conceived as an outside-in process, moving about parts of the organization, rather than an inside-out process which focuses on change within individuals.

Mind Over Meat

By Juliana Breines Ph.D. on October 31, 2014 in In Love and War
How do we reconcile our love for animals with our desire to eat them?

Do You Know These Often Misunderstood Psychological Terms?

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on October 06, 2014 in How To Do Life
A 16-item true/false quiz on words of value in psychology and beyond


By Leon Pomeroy Ph.D. on August 29, 2014 in Beyond Good and Evil
Weltanschauung & Folie à Plusieurs

Considerations Regarding the Unification of Psychology

By Gregg Henriques on August 22, 2014 in Theory of Knowledge
This blog provides a snapshot of the major issues involved in attempting to unify the field of psychology. Specifically, I identify five broad domains that should at least be considered in attempting to produce a general, workable framework: 1) Problems of Definition and Identity; 2) Philosophical Issues; 3) Theoretical; 4) Empirical; and 5) Issues of Application.

Dealing With Everyday Sadists and Other "Dark Personalities"

By Traci Stein PhD, MPH on August 20, 2014 in The Integrationist
How to spot and protect yourself from "everyday sadists" and other members of the "Dark Tetrad"

A Great Way to Reduce Your Job Satisfaction!

This summer, I discovered a wonderful way to reduce the enjoyment you take from your job: Try to do as little as possible. And there’s research and theory to help us understand why!