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

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.

Obama’s Almost Perfect Speech on Religion

By Izzy Kalman on February 12, 2015 in Resilience to Bullying
Barack Obama's speech at the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 5 was excellent. It was attacked by many Christians and political pundits who cannot handle criticism of their own beliefs. But even Obama's speech was misleading about the full meaning of freedom of speech.

The Silver Lining Around Fearful Living

By Liane Gabora Ph.D. on February 07, 2015 in Mindbloggling
One good thing about fear, other than it stops you from doing stupid, dangerous stuff, is that can hold you back from learning the facts inside out, which may help keep that creatively inspiring sense of wonder and possibility alive.

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.

Recovering from Anorexia: How and Why to Start

By Emily T. Troscianko on January 19, 2015 in A Hunger Artist
In this companion piece to my post on how and why not to stop halfway in recovery from anorexia, I focus on anorexia’s other halfway state, the one between first achieving insight and first taking action, and try to offer ways of both understanding and escaping this particular limbo.

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!

Who's Lying About Not Eating Meat?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on August 08, 2014 in Animals and Us
A new study shows that just thinking about the treatment of animals in slaughterhouses causes women—but not men—to "strategically under-report" their meat consumption. Why are women more likely to lie about eating animals?

The Psychology of Organizational Change

By Ray Williams on July 30, 2014 in Wired for Success
Leaders today must understand and apply the knowledge of behavioral psychology and the lessons from brain science to manage organizational change successfully.

Mapping AA: The Neuroscience of Addiction

A central question, particularly for critics, is why, exactly, does 12-Step recovery work?

Why Doesn't She/He Listen To Me? 10 Possibilities

Nothing erodes a sense of personal empowerment like not being heard. What may be going on when you try to offer your loved one, boss or friends your perspective and they ignore your voice, brush your viewpoint aside, or automatically negate it?

Discussing Evil: The Problem of “Us” and “Them”

By Lynne Soraya on June 09, 2014 in Asperger's Diary
"There's a pattern that has existed in my life for as long as I can remember. Not only do I do it, many other people that I know do it as well. I learn about some type of problem—a robbery, a shooting, a murder...I close my eyes for a moment, and then I brace myself as I await more information. And all the while one thought/prayer/chant/fear is running through my head..."

New Media Reshapes Scientific Discourse: Promise, Pitfalls

Social media can play a considerable new role in scientific discourse and debate. As psychologists, we understand the pitfalls of catharsis, the importance of empathetic concern, and how egos are inherent in progress. Yet, social media introduces new blind spots related to these themes that we must consider to make progress in a civil, respectful, and effective fashion.

450-Pound "Wonder" Pig Inspires Change

By Lisa Kramer Ph.D. on May 08, 2014 in Markets in Mind
Esther was adopted as a "mini-pig" but soon grew to 450 pounds. Her family was dismayed to learn that she had been bred to become bacon, and this became a catalyst for profound change among her closest family members and people around the world. Esther has inspired a quest to create a sanctuary for other animals otherwise intended for human consumption.

Show Me The Money

Sometimes, a patient's fantasy of pathology influences the presentation.

The Real Reason We Believe What We Believe

By Karl Albrecht Ph.D. on April 21, 2014 in BrainSnacks
We All Like to Tell Ourselves that We're "Rational"