Cognitive Dissonance: Why it is so hard to admit you are wrong

The last few weeks have had me going back to my undergraduate days when I was studying psychology, as I’ve witnessed many people around me making some some massive changes in their own lives. Some have also since spent a lot of time justifying not only their right to make them (which is 100% true), but for some, why others are wrong (or have wronged them), and why they are ‘right’.

Of course, the topic of Cognitive Dissonance popped into my head immediately, hence why I am highlighting a short video on the topic today.

One thing that I see as being very related to cognitive dissonance, isthe rationalisation of a decision or action. Rationalisatin is more often though, a defense mechanism in which behaviours, actions or feelings that others may see as wrong or controversial are justified and explained in a seemingly ‘rational or logical’ manner to avoid the true explanation. In this way, they are made ‘consciously tolerable’, in some cases, they can even make the person who is rationalising a behaviour or action seem admirable and superior to others. In psychogy it is also sometimes seen as an ‘informal fallacy’ of reasoning.

Rationalisation happens in two steps:

  1. A decision, action, judgement is made for a given reason, or no (known) reason at all.
  2. A rationalisation is performed, and the person then constructs a seemingly good or logical reason, as an attempt to justify the act after the fact (for oneself and/or for others).

We all rationalize for various reasons—sometimes when we think we know ourselves better than we actually do, or when we think we are more enlightened, or believe we have undergone more personal growth than we really have.

Hmmm, I really did want to be a psychologist, and especially love learning about human beings, including analysing not only my own behaviour or actions, but those of others. We really are a very interesting and fascinating species.

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