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Psych and Prejudice Pt. 5

by Abby W 4 years ago in humanity
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When You Do Something That You Secretly Hate Yourself For

Today we are talking about cognitive dissonance. Cognitive Dissonance is when you do something that does not match with your current belief system. This causes you to feel bad, thus either changing your belief to match your actions, or rationalizing your actions to the point where they somehow weirdly fit your beliefs. This causes the cognitive dissonance to go away, making your life easier since no one likes to feel uncomfortable because of their own decisions. However, cognitive dissonance is totally normal and you probably do it more often than you may think.

So, what are some examples of cognitive dissonance? Well, let's say I decide that I hate puppies ( I definitely do not hate puppies, I am not a monster, but for today's purpose, let's say that I do). Now, I hate puppies, but then when I look at my boyfriend's puppy, I decide that I love that puppy. You see, that makes me feel hypocritical. How can I say that I hate puppies yet proclaim my love for one puppy? This means I have to either overhaul my belief system and decide that I actually do like all puppies, or I can rationalize why I like my boyfriend's puppy. I can say something along the lines of "well, his puppy is not like most puppies. She is different because she acts more like a cat." Since I rationalized liking that puppy, I will no longer feel like a hypocrite for liking that particular dog.

Cognitive Dissonance can be a very powerful thing. It is often behind instances where people do something that is morally wrong, but justify it for some other reason. For a more nefarious take on things, let's take a look at murder/manslaughter. Most rational people will look at the act of murder/manslaughter as something morally wrong. Yet, there are some people who know murder/manslaughter is wrong, believes that it is wrong, and they still kill someone. An example of this would be your stereotypical crime of passion. A person believes that murder is wrong, but they come home to find their spouse in bed with another person. This sends them into a rage and they kill them. Then, they feel guilty, because holy crap, they just killed their spouse. That does not fit with their beliefs that killing another person is wrong. Therefore, they have to justify it by saying things along the lines of "well, they just made me so mad, they were cheating, etc." This is their way of getting around their cognitive dissonance in order to feel better about their decisions. This may also apply to self defense cases, because although you may not like hurting someone, by protecting yourself, that is enough justification to bypass most of the cognitive dissonance you may have. However, people still feel guilty about those instances sometimes.

So, now you may be asking what do we do about cognitive dissonance? Not much, really. I know it sounds a little hopeless to say that cognitive dissonance comes with being human, but it for the most part, it does. However, if you really do not want to feel cognitive dissonance ever, just act in ways that are consistent with your belief systems. If you know you want to do something that does not fit in that system, change your beliefs. But, you should also realize that you have those beliefs for a reason, therefore completely overhauling them is a fairly big decision to make. So, take the time to think about your actions before you do something. You'll thank yourself later, and it could keep you from doing something rash in the moment.


About the author

Abby W

A 20 year old college student just looking for a way to get by through sharing her experiences with other people.

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