Story@BFBV: The Leon Festinger Story

Leon Festinger came up with one of the most brilliant ideas in social psychology: Cognitive Dissonance – the engine behind self justification of dumb things. Watch this video:

When people have two contradictory thoughts in their minds, they experience dissonance. The pressure to resolve that dissonance arises from the uncomfortable feeling of holding contradictory thoughts in one’s mind e.g. Smoking is bad for me, and I smoke. Typically people resolve dissonance by rationalizing their dumb behavior by convincing themselves that what they are doing is not dumb at all (e.g. “the studies that link smoking to cancer are fake,” “its my life,” “lots of smart people do it so it can’t be all that bad,” “I know a man who smokes three packs a day and he is 99 years old” etc etc.

Contrary to the fundamental assumption in economics that man is a rational animal, social psychologists like Leon Festinger showed that man is not a rational animal, rather he is a rationalizing animal. Cognitive dissonance theory explains why people stick to their bad judgments even when they are totally wrong.

Learn to promptly resolve cognitive dissonance rationally by changing your behavior when you are wrong instead of fooling yourself in believing that you are right.

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