20 Worst Examples of Cognitive Dissonance People Witnessed in Real Life

Ever caught yourself saying one thing and doing the complete opposite? Congratulations, you’ve just played a round of cognitive dissonance. You see, it’s not just some fancy psychology term you learn in Psych 101; it’s real, it’s messy, and it’s everywhere you look.

One Redditor asked, “What’s the worst example of cognitive dissonance you’ve seen in real life?” Now, this thread has received thousands of comments, and we have listed the top ones for you!

1. Alcoholism

man toasting with beer
Image Credit: DmitryPoch via DepositPhotos.com.

Alcoholism is the ultimate mind-game showdown. You know it’s bad for your health, your relationships, and your wallet, but you keep going back for more.

A discerning Reddit user commented, “My alcoholic husband, who is completely off the rails and rapidly drinking himself to death and tearing my and our kids’ hearts apart, sitting in his chair rambling on about how sorry he feels for a friend who is dealing with a loved one’s drug addiction.”

Another replied, “The sad part is the reality that society doesn’t consider alcohol as a drug, which far too often makes people ignore it when problems arise.”

2. Driving

An irritated young man driving a vehicle is expressing his road rage..
Image Credit: ARENA Creative/Shutterstock.

Someone commented, “People complaining about other people’s driving while committing the same errors, but it’s ok because “they are in a hurry.””

Someone else added, ““God, can nobody can drive straight and stay in their lane?!?” Ooo a text, let’s read it!””

We all think we’re exceptional drivers. It’s a classic case of cognitive dissonance- thinking you’re above the fray while contributing to the chaos.

3. Cancer Treatment

attractive miserable unlucky devastated man wearing checked shirt isolated over bright yellow color background.
Image Credit: deagreez1 via DepositPhotos.com.

Now, let’s break it down. We all know that cancer can be deadly if left unchecked. So, refusing treatment, like chemo or radiation, seems like the craziest thing ever. But guess what? People still do it.

One said, “SO grandmother died this year of cancer, that she had for 10 years. She refused to get treated, refused x-rays because she believed x-rays would give her cancer.”

Another replied, “My beloved stepdad went the coffee enema + vegan diet + whatever herbal route. He died two years ago, after more than a decade of letting the cancer eat him alive. It would have been easily curable if he’d actually chosen sane, western medicine. 🤦‍♀️”

4. Food Stamps for Grocery

Portrait of angry furious offended senior person with bob hairdo wear pink shirt scream in conflict isolated on blue color background.
Image Credit: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock.

So, what’s the deal? Food stamps, or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), are meant to help low-income people, including immigrants, put food on the table.

A Reddit user wrote, “My mom (who has admittedly come soooo far since this era) used to point out the “trashy” Russian ladies in the grocery store and say that they were using food stamps “paid for by her, and still have an attitude” Meanwhile we literally were there purchasing groceries on WIC benefits lmao. Glad she’s overcome her issues there, lol.”

Another added, “An ex of mine used to go on these long rants about immigrants getting benefits. While he himself was living on benefits simply because he felt he was too good for an entry-level job despite being unemployed for about a decade. No matter how I tried to explain to him that he was being a tad hypocritical he just wouldn’t get it.”

5. Abortions

portrait of shocked upset woman isolated on pastel blue colored background.
Image Credit: deagreez1 via DepositPhotos.com.

A discerning Reddit user commented, “Ugh. I had a (now ex) best friend who had a pregnancy scare. She was super pro-life, very conservative Republican. I asked her what she was going to do and what support she needed from me, and she said she was considering getting an abortion if she was pregnant.

When I seemed surprised, she said, “Well, it’s different for me. I’m not a “busy woman” like those other girls. I’m not ready for a baby. It’s different…” We stopped being friends after that. I couldn’t handle it anymore.”

Another replied, “I’ve heard a couple of stories from Planned Parenthood employees that sometimes pro-life women who regularly protest outside the clinic will come in for an abortion…. And are back protesting later that week. I don’t know how true that is, but I won’t count it out.”

And it’s not just about those big-picture debates. It’s also about individual decisions. Ever heard of someone who’s fiercely anti-abortion but finds themselves in a situation where they consider it? Cognitive dissonance strikes again!

6. Disability Payments

Portrait of a young angry man gesticulating with his hands, looking at the camera.
Image Credit: dabyki.nadya/Shutterstock.

A Reddit user wrote, “People on government disability payments talking about cutting welfare.”

Someone else added, “My dad has been on disability since around 1998, rather fraudulently, I might add, because it took him ages to get full disability because he was perfectly capable of working a desk job (and very good with computers for the time), but he didn’t want to do a desk job. So he finally got enough partial physical and partial mental health disability to add up to 100% by going to dozens of doctors and outright lying.

For 20+ years, he has sat at a desk all day playing on a computer with Fox News blaring 24/7 in the background, ranting about people living off of his “hard-earned tax dollars so they can be lazy.” It’s pretty wild to witness.”

It’s not just about opinions; it’s personal, too. Ever met someone who’s been on disability payments while secretly feeling like they should be working? Bingo! That’s cognitive dissonance raising its quirky head.

7. Generational Wealth

Photo portrait of lovely young girl disgusted discontent face dressed stylish yellow smart casual look isolated on blue color background.
Image Credit: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock.

Someone commented, “People who have generational wealth, but then claim they “pulled themselves up by their bootstraps” and “worked their ykw off to get where they are,” while claiming everyone else is just lazy.”

Another added, “My coworker told me that her bf’s colleagues (they’re all delivery men) were jealous of his fancy, expensive car. She said that if those coworkers wanted the same as her bf, they should just step up their game and start studying as he is. He bought the car purely with money he got from his dad.

She claimed everyone has equal opportunities in life to study or get a career. Later in that same conversation, she mentioned that her father was never able to study, so he became a mason instead because his own father died young and his mother couldn’t afford to let him study.”

Now, shift gears to the “bootstraps” narrative. Some of these folks genuinely believe they’re the architects of their own success despite the leg up they got from mommy and daddy’s fortune.

8. Foreigners

Group of students humiliating young muslim woman
Image Credit: YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV/Shutterstock.

On the one hand, you’ve got these travelers who jet off to foreign lands in search of authenticity.  But here’s the twist- they sometimes forget that the very essence of authenticity means being around… you guessed it, the locals!

One said, “Brexit voters who live in Spain and other parts of the EU. Voting to kick out foreigners without realizing that they are the foreigners is peak cognitive dissonance.”

Another replied, “There was a newspaper recently in the UK that had a story about a woman going on holiday to Spain and complaining that there were too many Spanish people.”

9. Christians

Pastor with a Bible in his hand during a sermon. The preacher delivers a speech
Image Credit: MVolodymyr/Shutterstock.

A Reddit user wrote, “There is no hate like Christian “love.” And this is coming from a Christian; I am sickened by these hypocrites.”

Someone else added, “Another Christian here that agrees. I used to work in the restaurant industry. Our worst crowd was the Sunday lunch after church. Some of the most awful people I’d ever met. Like, yeah, I see now why other people think so lowly of us. Did you just leave Jesus at the church?”

But here’s the kicker- it’s not that people are mean; it’s just that we’re going through a tough time and projecting our frustration onto others. That’s cognitive dissonance, making us see what we want to see.


man showing he is confused at basic thing . hand on head in fake confusion showing Weaponized incompetence.
Image Credit: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock.

Some countries implement strict lockdowns and curfews, telling their citizens to stay home, while politicians jet off to luxury vacations or attend fancy soirées.

A discerning Reddit user commented, “When the pandemic started, a friend of mine got really obsessed with the fact that you can’t leave your home or go near people without a mask, etc.

The only thing is it never reflected in his own actions. He judged others but did not follow guidelines himself. He worked at a grocery store at the time and refused to wear a mask his boss told him to wear, meanwhile complaining about people coming to the store without masks and putting his health at risk.”

Another added, “Agree! I had a Facebook friend complain about people buying up all the toilet paper…the next day, they posted a picture of all the toilet paper (an excessive amount) they then bought.”

11. Animation

Handsome man with beard over white brick wall with an expression of frustration and not understanding.
Image Credit: Luis Molinero/Shutterstock.

One said, “My uncle refuses to acknowledge or give credibility to ANYTHING animated. “It’s a cartoon; it’s not real!” “So if we take the factual events of WWII and animate it, it’s not real anymore?” “Exactly!!!” Face palm”

Another replied, “I mean….does he think all the historical figures will be portrayed by cute mice?? Because everyone knows W.T. Sherman wasn’t a bearded mouse! His 2-dimensional logic about reality Literally applied to a 2D art form….?”

Animation is cool and eye-catching, right? But here’s the twist- some people refuse to acknowledge or give any credibility to these animated gems, dismissing them as mere child’s play.

12. Employed Immigrants

man wearing red tshirt looking upset
Image Credit: vova130555@gmail.com via DepositPhotos.com.

Some people believe that immigrants are snatching jobs away from native-born citizens. But here’s the kicker- they often overlook the fact that immigrants often take jobs that others don’t want or can’t do.

A Reddit user wrote, “Illegal immigrants are taking our jobs! I wouldn’t have a problem with illegal immigrants if they would work instead of coming here to live off of welfare! Said within minutes of each other out of the same mouth.”

Someone else added, “I was working on a gas service for a customer with a massive house in the middle of nowhere, and he was talking to me about how immigration was destroying this country after talking about my home country for a while. And, behind his political flags in the yard, a team of half a dozen guys re-roofing his house.

The dude wouldn’t have the faintest idea as to how to operate on a daily level without the help of “them immigrants.” But man, should we be sent home.”

13. Confederate Flag

Man doubting
Image Credit: AsierRomeroCarballo via DepositPhotos.com.

Someone commented, “An American flag next to a Confederate flag. They were opposite sides of the same war.”

Another replied, “I asked my redneck cousin if he thought his kids should get participation trophies for losing. When he said no, I asked him why he thought the Confederate flag was so great.”

Now, let’s talk about the “heritage versus hate” argument. Some claim that the Confederate flag is all about Southern heritage, not supporting slavery or racism. But that flag is also a painful reminder of a dark period in American history when people were enslaved, oppressed, and denied their basic rights.

14. Fascism

Portrait of selfish senior man crossing hands on his chest..
Image Credit: Koldunov/Shutterstock,

Fascist regimes often revolve around a charismatic leader who can do no wrong.

One said, “Fascism isn’t meant to make sense; it’s meant to rile up anger. There’s no better example of cognitive dissonance than fascists.”

Another added, “”Hitler didn’t kill any Jews, and he didn’t kill enough”. Said by a relative. We’re German. And to be clear, technically, a) Hitler didn’t kill any Jews personally (as far as I’m aware), b) zero is never enough if you desire any positive number, and c) he said it to me, and it was unmistakable how he actually meant it. Oh, and d) the guy just isn’t smart enough to intentionally imply this technicality.”

15. Socialism

Portrait of happy hipster man showing thumbs up near brick wall.
Image Credit: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock.

In a socialist society, the government plays a big role in redistributing wealth and resources so that everyone can have access to the basics like healthcare, education, and a decent standard of living.

A Reddit user wrote, “My parents are libertarian and hate the idea of socialism. They constantly talk about how much they love the library.”

Someone else added, “The right-wing definition of ‘socialism’ is and always has been “The government is spending money on things/people I don’t like” They like libraries; therefore, it’s not socialism.”

16. Homophobic

woman surprised.
Image Credit: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock.

Homophobia can show up in all sorts of ways, from hurtful slurs and jokes to outright discrimination and violence.

A discerning Reddit user commented, “My brother supports the homophobic religion despite the fact that he loves and accepts and supports his 2 queer daughters.”

Another replied, “My favorite version of this was the anti-gay Hungarian politician caught climbing out of the window of a 25-man orgy.”

17.  Morality

Young handsome caucasian man scolding someone very angry
Image Credit: AsierRomeroCarballo via DepositPhotos.com.

One user shared, “Husband’s a securities attorney with high morals and ethics and yet excuses the LDS church of hiding billions of dollars from the govt and their members in shell companies.”

Another added, “People who want to stop preying on others should get the help they need to follow through, and someone who is very into ethics may find it important that there are rules like that one. I’m on your side, though; there are some things no one can hide in good conscience.”

So, what’s the deal with morality and cognitive dissonance? It’s all about navigating the messy, gray areas of life. We’re not robots who always do what’s “right” according to our moral code. We’re complex creatures, and sometimes, we make choices that clash with our beliefs.

18. Mormonism

sad and offended woman.
Image Credit: deagreez1 via DepositPhotos.com.

Someone commented, “My husband who knows the extreme trauma and is devastated that I suffered so much from being a child victim of abuse and yet angrily defending Mormonism’s unapologetic declaration that clergy shouldn’t have to report abuse when a member confesses it.”

Someone else added, “The Mormon church is cognitive dissonance at its finest. My life was yours 15 years ago when I left the church and my marriage. Wishing you the best for a good and manageable outcome. Mine was a nightmare.

When you have a divorce trial in the belly of the beast, you end up with a devout judge, opposing attorney, guardian ad litem, and more. I was essentially on trial for leaving the church. And they punished me and my kids for it. Good luck. 🤍”

Nowadays, Mormons are just like any other religious group, with a wide range of beliefs and practices. You’ve got your super-devout Mormons, your more relaxed ones, and everything in between.

19. Climate Change

Two 'Climate action now' and 'climate emergency' signs rest on a sidewalk during a climate change march in London, Ontario, Canada in September, 2021. No people.
Image Credit: Jade Prevost Manuel/Shutterstock.

Ever heard of climate change deniers who drive gas-guzzling SUVs? That’s a goldmine for cognitive dissonance. They’ll argue that climate change is a hoax while simultaneously contributing to it with every mile they drive.

One said, ““This weather is crazy!!! It was never like this when I was a kid.” meets “climate change is a hoax.””

Another added, “All the friggin’ time! Right-wing denier: “I miss snow! Back in mah day, we used to have snow every winter!” Realists: “Yes, the climate is changing, and it’s going to get worse if we don’t-” Denier: “NO! It’s not changing!” They not only don’t care about facts, they’ll contradict their own words and experiences if it lets them get mad and disagree with somebody, especially people they hate.”

20. Mental Issues

Young man in blue t-shirt shouting oh my god with open mouth.
Image Credit: hozard
via DepositPhotos.com.

A Reddit user wrote, “My brother sarcastically yelling “Well, maybe I have mental issues too!” Moments before kicking my door in half and threatening to attack me.”

Another replied, “A former roommate of mine was similar to your brother. He claimed to have bipolar disorder, yet was blatantly ableist towards me.

And what’s worse, he was a child abuser and compulsive liar who would even threaten to send his son back to his mother if he didn’t do his homework, and he’d get upset about my calling him out on it. Yet whenever I would do voice acting work, he’d try to break into my room and make me stop, even as he knew it was my job.”

But it’s not just about reactions; it’s about expectations. Society often puts pressure on us to be “normal” and “functional,” even when we’re battling mental health challenges.

12 American Customs That Make No Sense To Foreigners

Close-up young serious focused angry african american woman holding palm in front showing stop gesture showing prohibition sign forbidden protect personal boundaries.
Image Credit: MAYA LAB/Shutterstock.

When people from other countries visit the United States, they often notice some things that seem really strange. These are things that Americans do in their everyday lives, but they might not make much sense to visitors.

12 American Customs That Make No Sense to Foreigners

12 Things You Should Stop Doing When You Turn 18

Smiling teen boy 16-18 year old wearing black knitted hat, hoodie and denim jacket outdoors at sun set on background. Looking at camera. Teenagerhood.
Image Credit: morrowlight/Shutterstock.

As young adults reach the age of 18, a new chapter in life begins. It’s a time filled with opportunities and responsibilities. These changes can help pave the way for a more successful and fulfilling journey into the world of grown-up responsibilities.

12 Things You Should Stop Doing When You Turn 18

12 Mythological Creatures That Might Actually Exist

Pretty female faun playing flute.
Image Credit: Demian
via DepositPhotos.com.

Mythology has always been a fascinating realm where imagination and reality intertwine. While many mythological creatures have been dismissed as pure fiction, there are a few that might find a place in the realm of possibility.

12 Mythological Creatures That Might Actually Exist

12 Healthy Foods Most People Refuse To Eat

girl making disgusting throwing up gesture.
Image Credit: Giulio_Fornasar via DepositPhotos.com.

When it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, we often hear about the importance of consuming a variety of nutritious foods. However, some of these foods often end up being overlooked or outright refused by many individuals. Despite their incredible health benefits, certain foods face a lack of popularity due to taste, texture, or unfamiliarity.

12 Healthy Foods Most People Refuse To Eat

20 Jobs That Used To Be Prestigious But Aren’t Anymore

Police Officer Using Two-Way Radio.
Image Credit:
londondeposit via DepositPhotos.com.

Some jobs used to be all fancy-schmancy, but now? Meh, not so much. We are talking about those gigs that used to make you raise your eyebrows in admiration, but now, you’re more likely to raise your remote and change the channel.

20 Jobs That Used To Be Prestigious but Aren’t Anymore 

This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved.