Psych 101


“Festinger’s (1957) cognitive dissonance theory suggests that we have an inner drive to hold all our attitudes and behavior in harmony and avoid disharmony (or dissonance). This is known as the principle of cognitive consistency. When there is an inconsistency between attitudes or behaviors (dissonance), something must change to eliminate the dissonance.”

Practically the only thing I learned in Psych101.

“Notice that dissonance theory does not state that these modes of dissonance reduction will actually work, only that individuals who are in a state of cognitive dissonance will take steps to reduce the extent of their dissonance.”

In the fall of 1976, I went to Stonybrook university for my first year of college. I had one painting class, with Judith Bernstein. She wore rose colored glasses while she taught. I have little memory of anything else in that class.

I took an Art History class. I had an awesome nap each and every class!

I took French. Oui!

I had to take Psych 101. Everyone had to take Psych 101. There were 1500 students in myPsych 101 class. If you came too late, 8:01am, you had to sit in the aisle because there were not enough seats. Needless to say, no one took attendance.

Again, falling back to sleep was rampant amongst us Freshman.

Even though I was not a stellar student of Art history, it was interesting enough to me that I was seriously more engaged in Art than I was in Psychology.

Although, I did learn one single very important thing in Psych 101: Cognitive Dissonance. I learned that concept so completely that I almost never failed to recognize when I myself was justifying my own ill fated and uninformed opinions to the point where I would fight tooth and nail for them.

I did this often throughout my life. Although not as many times as I’d hoped would I actually actualize my behavior, opinion, point of view, to fully alter it.

Sometimes I would, just not often enough.

In 2019, it is obvious that the human psychological tendency toward the avoidance of Cognitive Dissonance is the raison d’etre of Fox News, right wing conspiracists, and the Trump loyalists. They just cannot live with their own misjudgments. They cannot live with the reality that they have been hoodwinked, scammed, lied to, bamboozled, grifted, scammed, so fully by the corporate filthy rich oligarchs in this country who manipulate our entire culture because they are formed and defined by it. They are the flesh born out of the lie. They themselves are that lie.

Christianity and it’s existence can be codified with this explanation as well. But, jeez, I’m not so sure I’m equipped to take that baby on.

There is no way that any brain having been formed by manipulative media and greed and lies, can balance into cognitive consistency without more lies, more deception and further grifting. It’s become the stuff of their DNA .

So, us liberal Democrats, we need to simply try to teach the next generation how to not be manipulated by the media.


At the end of my semester at Stonybrook, my friend Leslie and I did each other a favor. She was failing Art History and I was failing Psych 101 regardless of my cellular comprehension of Cognitive Dissonance. Shocking, I know. We took each other’s final exam. No one noticed. We passed each other’s final exams! That’s what good friends do!

I still think we bucked the system! Yay for us!

2 thoughts on “Psych 101

  1. All I remember from my Norwalk Community College psych 101 – taught by a young bearded hipster in dark glasses – was his comment on masturbation, “Imagine what goes out to sea?” Not as useful as what you remember.


    1. HA! Think of all the fish!
      The only class that I was less successful in was LOGIC – which I managed to fail 2X.


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