Rationalization is irrational and self-serving, but useful

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 43:e42 (2020)
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Rationalization through reduction of cognitive dissonance does not have the function of representational exchange. Instead, cognitive dissonance is part of the “psychological immune system” (Gilbert 2006; Mandelbaum 2019) and functions to protect the self-concept against evidence of incompetence, immorality, and instability. The irrational forms of attitude change that protect the self-concept in dissonance reduction are useful primarily for maintaining motivation.



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Jake Quilty-Dunn
Washington University in St. Louis

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