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: 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

Road Rage: A Second "Free-Range" Intervention

What is real power? It is acting like the biggest dog on the road.

Exploring Our Own Stereotypes and Biases

It is natural to want to deny our own biases, but trying to suppress negative thoughts doesn’t work. The good news is that you can have thoughts without being guided by them.

The One False Belief Holding You Back

Metacognition is a key skill necessary for self-improvement.

How to Say What You Mean without Sounding Like You're Mean

In a time when opinions are key to almost any dialogue between people, you may wonder- what’s the best way to express yours? This simple approach will help you find your voice.

Culpably Unwarranted Delay: Is There an App for That?

By Timothy A Pychyl Ph.D. on July 15, 2016 in Don't Delay
Once it becomes clear that procrastination involves a mens rea (guilty mind), significant opportunities for intervention come into view.

Pets Are Not Trash

We often hear that pets are being treated better than ever. Why, then, do so many animals end up being treated like garbage?

4 Reasons Compliments Make You Cringe

Do you have trouble accepting compliments? Research explains why kind words feel so uncomfortable.

Cognitive Dissonance and Gun Violence

By Marty Babits on June 28, 2016 in The Middle Ground
Cognitive dissonance is two thoughts in your brain that contradict one another, creating insecurity and disorientation. What does that have to do with gun violence? Read on...

5 Ways to Find Meaning in Life Following Adversity

Does the news—or troubling events in your own life—have you questioning the way the world works? Research in psychology can help.

Are They Shooting at You?

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on June 14, 2016 in A Swim in Denial
The Orlando massacre, and reactions to it, turn flight to fight. The denial is as self-intoxicating as American gun mania.

Harvard Research Shows How the Cerebellum Regulates Thoughts

Harvard neuroscientists have discovered how the cerebellum (Latin for "little brain") regulates human cognition. This could have dramatic implications for advances in psychiatry.

At the Gates of Commitment, Leave Illusions Behind

The biggest mistake we make in love is assuming that our partners' experience is the same as ours and that events and behaviors mean the same to them as they do to us.

10 Ideas for Wise Decision-Making

High intelligence is not enough for successful decision-making.

The Fifth of May: Celebration or Commemoration?

Many people I know are celebrating on this Cinco de Mayo, while other friends are in deep remembrance on this sad Yom HaShoah.

Programmed Life

Much of our experience is programmed. No wonder puppets & robots fascinate us. Some programs enhance life while others create zombies, it makes sense to think about the issues.

Reflections and repairs for Mother's Day

Having a difficult mother need not mean that Mother's Day is a washout. Here's how we can use it to shore up our soul.

No Lack of Conspiracy Theories

By E E Smith on April 15, 2016 in Not Born Yesterday
If you think the Pentagon is concealing information about UFO's and what really happened at Roswell, that global warming is a hoax, or that the CIA killed JFK, you are not alone.

Do You Suffer From Election Stress Disorder?

Political campaigns are designed to exploit bias rather than expose it. But how do candidates seem so certain about enormously complex problems?

Could Monogamy Actually Increase the Risk of HIV Infection?

By Joye Swan Ph.D. on April 06, 2016 in Up Close and Personal
Could monogamy actually increase the risk of HIV infection?

Hooked on Meat: Evolution, Psychology, and Dissonance

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on March 05, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Marta Zaraska's book called "Meathooked" analyzes our obsession with meat. It's fact-filled and non-preachy and an excellent read about why we're addicted to eating other animals.

Intolerance in the Name of Tolerance

Parenting toddlers tells us a lot about current political and social discourse. Toddler thinking is all-or-nothing, narrow and rigid, and dominated by “Mine!” and “No!”

One Soldier's Struggle With Torture, Trauma and Moral Injury

By Eric Newhouse on February 11, 2016 in Invisible Wounds
LTC Bill Edmonds was put in an impossible situation: forced to decide between allowing torture to save American lives or risking death to American soldiers.

How Does the Law Treat Repressed Memories?

By Ruth Lee Johnson J.D. on February 09, 2016 in So Sue Me
The existence of repressed memories is a controversial topic in psychology. But how will it play out in court?

The “Airbag” of Depersonalization: Shield or Disorder?

By Elena Bezzubova on February 09, 2016 in The Search for Self
The painful experience of unreality safeguards from a danger.

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 in 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.

The Surprising Trick to Get Someone (or Yourself) to Change

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

Trump Is History

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on January 23, 2016 in 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 in 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.