This continues from my last post, please read it for context.
Why are we willing to change our opinions when our self image is at stake? What is so important about the way we see ourselves that we cannot bear to see ourselves in any other way? As you see in the experiment mentioned in the extract from Social Psychology, we would rather (subconsciously) change our opinion/view of something in order to continue seeing ourselves as "honest". We would rather remember our experience of some event in a way that does not jeopardize our self perception - even if we did not actually experience it (the event) quite like that at the time.
The worst part of all this is: we do not realize that we are changing these little experiences of ours - essentially lying to ourselves - in order to appear to be honest to other people. Apparently we prefer to live in denial than be branded as a liar. Obviously the real problem is that we feel the need to lie at all, and then that we are not aware that we are lying.
Apparently the average person lies at least twice a day (Also from Social Psychology) - and those are only the lies that we are aware of. We lie when people ask us how we are, we lie to friends and family when they ask for our opinion on a personal matter, we lie to our employers, we lie to our employees and of all the lies we tell, we lie to ourselves the most. We lie to ourselves when we tell ourselves that we should be happy. We lie to ourselves when we tell ourselves we should be grateful. We lie to ourselves about what other people are probably thinking about us. We lie to ourselves when we assess how well we did a job/task. We lie to ourselves when we are planning said job/task. We lie to ourselves when we tell ourselves that we deserve to be happy. We lie to ourselves when we tell ourselves that what we see on the TV is what real life is actually like. We lie to ourselves when we are thinking about sex. We lie to ourselves when we are meeting a potential partner. Unfortunately we usually only experience the consequences of our dishonesty once the situation has moved far beyond the point where we can even recognise that we were lying in the first place.
Sometimes our beliefs form a part of who we see ourselves to be, such as religious beliefs. In these cases, we will flat out deny any kind of evidence that goes against what we believe and intensify our belief to the point of extremism. Take the first example from the extract in my previous post: For these people who believed that the world would end on a specific day, when the world didn't end they simply solidified their beliefs and found some answer that they wanted to hear - that their faith had saved the world. Add to that that their beliefs were justified, in their own minds, every time a new member joined their group due to the faulty logic of "if a lot of people believe it, it must be true."
If a lot of people believe in something implausible, it doesn't make it any more plausible - it only makes the people delusional.
Half of the time we don't even know why we feel the way we feel, or think the thoughts we think, or do the things we do. We could lie to ourselves and blame it on our nature - but in reality the cause is much more simple, and yet sinister at the same time: we were designed to live like blind men fumbling for something to hold on to, just to keep our balance. No one really knows why we are the way we are, 'cos if we knew we wouldn't be such blind fools.