Cognitive dissonance – the difference between what we say and what we feel – and how we justify our actions. Plenty of people experience this form of denial, often when trying to convince themselves everything is consistent. The woman in the video seems to realize she should have been paid more than a dollar for lying, especially because she was supposed to say the boring task was exciting. I noticed she was far more committed to the task of convincing others the experiment was fun, and even said she would do something like the experiment again.
However, the man who received twenty dollars easily lied about how exciting the experiment was. When the researchers conducting the experiment asked him about the task he admitted the task was boring. Cognitive dissonance seems to be our brain’s way of justifying why we did something we feel was not worth our time or is bad for us. For example, I vape despite knowing nicotine is an addictive chemical. Though I feel bad because it is harmful to the immune system and lungs, I still do it because I believe the occasional nicotine buzz is worthwhile. I crave the nicotine constantly, but only feel a buzz from it if I wait a few hours between using it.
Another example of cognitive dissonance occurred in season 21 of the hit animated TV series South Park. Heidi Turner, a fourth grader at South Park Elementary, began dating Eric Cartman in the previous season when both students are left without any social media. Though Heidi and Cartman’s relationship was mentally exhausting, she refused to give up on him. Her friends constantly belittled her for staying in the relationship, which only made Heidi more determined to prove her relationship was great.
Like Heidi, the girl in the video knew she was being underpaid for lying, but still felt the need to lie about how interesting the task was to justify her actions. I feel cognitive dissonance can be a good thing for minor things, like rationalizing why we partake in cheat days from diets. However, anything long term like staying in a toxic relationship because your partner has a few decent qualities is a terrible idea. I believe cognitive dissonance is okay in small amounts, but rationalizing every single action you make that you do not necessarily agree with or know consciously is a bad decision is a bad thing we should try to avoid.