Brain Food #475

Cognitive dissonance

Good morning, and happy Friday.

This week, I spent some time thinking about the concept of cognitive dissonance, which in simple terms means the distress one experiences when holding or facing two conflicting views or beliefs, or when knowingly participating in an action that goes against their views and beliefs.

A common example is smokers who continue to smoke, even though they know smoking is bad for them. Another is driving a non-environmentally friendly car, despite knowing that it is harmful to the environment. Cognitive dissonance is also what advertisers use to make you feel like your life right now could be improved with a new product.

A thought for the weekend, our time to think and reconsider the week that has just passed, and set our expectations for the one that is approaching: it is easy to lie to ourselves about what we want and what is right. But cognitive dissonance, at least, means that we already have a sense of what is important.

The Fox & the Grapes

A Fox one day spied a beautiful bunch of ripe grapes hanging from a vine trained along the branches of a tree. The grapes seemed ready to burst with juice, and the Fox’s mouth watered as he gazed longingly at them.

The bunch hung from a high branch, and the Fox had to jump for it. The first time he jumped he missed it by a long way. So he walked off a short distance and took a running leap at it, only to fall short once more. Again and again he tried, but in vain.

Now he sat down and looked at the grapes in disgust.

“What a fool I am,” he said. “Here I am wearing myself out to get a bunch of sour grapes that are not worth gaping for.”

And off he walked very, very scornfully.

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