Goodness, we love justifying our decisions, don’t we?
There is nothing wrong with this in and of itself, of course. But we do it in the face of knowing we are wrong.
For this reason we hold on to investments long after we know they are bad, we date someone for a year after we knew the relationship was dead, and we cling to soul-sucking jobs for years after we knew we were in the wrong place.
I think we are afraid of the judgment of others.
The internal and external cost of egg in the face is too great. So we make ourselves believe we did the right thing.
It’s a beautiful story we tell.
A STUDY DONE BY A PAIR OF CANADIAN PSYCHOLOGISTS UNCOVERED something fascinating about people at the racetrack: Just after placing a bet, they are much more confident of their horse’s chances of winning than they are immediately before laying down that bet. Of course, nothing about the horse’s chances actually shifts; it’s the same horse, on the same track, in the same field; but in the minds of those bettors, its prospects improve significantly once that ticket is purchased. Although a bit puzzling at first glance, the reason for the dramatic change has to do with a common weapon of social influence. Like the other weapons of influence, this one lies deep within us, directing our actions with quiet power. It is, quite simply, our nearly obsessive desire to be (and to appear) consistent with what we have already done. Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision.
-Robert Cialdini, Influence