Self-Justification (Rationalizing Behavior)

Common methods of justifying actions/beliefs in light of contradictory information.

Rationalizing behaviors are common responses to cognitive dissonance. When confronted with a poor outcome from a decision we made or facts that contradict existing beliefs, we respond in predictable ways:

Villianization: We blame someone else for our personal failure.

Diffusion of Blame: We blame others around us or point to a group failure.

Displacement of Responsibility: It wasn’t our responsibility to make the decision in the first place.

Advantageous Comparison: What you did wasn’t as bad as what that other guy did.

Distortion of Consequences: Sure it set the project back 3 months, but out of a 4 years timeline that really isn’t that bad.

Attribution of Blame: Also called fundamental attribution error, when we blame external sources for a problem that we caused.

Euphemistic Labeling: Using more pleasant wordings like having someone “taken care of” instead of killed, or saying there was a small problem to describe some really bad screw-up.

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