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

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.

3 Ways to Manage Second Thoughts After a Breakup

Are you having second thoughts about ending a relationship? These strategies will reinforce your decision to split and help you move on after a breakup.

Working With Rageful Couples: A "Free-Range" Approach

My very angry patient was making great progress, applying a range of new insights. The problem was that his wife became very angry as a result of these changes.

4 Principles Keeping You Together, for Better or Worse

By Andrea Bonior Ph.D. on September 08, 2016 in Friendship 2.0
A new book explains how those dusty Psychology 101 theories shed light on your behavior and your relationships.

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.