Friday, June 14, 2024

What Is Rationalization In Psychology

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Can Rationalization Affect Relationships

What is Psychology?

It can be difficult for people to notice when they rationalize, because it feels better to believe their excuses than admit they caused a problem. Maybe an individual didnt follow through on a commitment, so instead points out what he did do: I didnt get to the dishes, but I worked hard at the office. Maybe he claims his behavior could have been worse: I dont babysit our daughter, but I am better than my dad, who was never around.

Rationalization can weaken relationships, but sincerely apologizing and taking responsibility can strengthen them.

Rationalization As A Defense Mechanism

Sigmund Freud described rationalization as a defense mechanism and the egos attempt to make a particular action acceptable to the superegothe part of a person demanding moral behavior. He also explained some motives for behavior are too uncomfortable or painful for people to face. An adult might be afraid of the dark as a result of being molested at night during childhood. That person might rationalize the fear by emphasizing that being unable to see ones surroundings is dangerous or by pointing out most burglaries occur at night. According to Freud, understanding the unconscious motivations for behavior is an important precursor to healing.

What Is Rationalization In Psychology

The concept of rationalization dates back to the psychoanalyst Ernest Jones. In 1908 he proposed the first definition of rationalization: The invention of a reason to explain an attitude or action whose motive is not recognized. Sigmund Freud quickly adopted the concept of rationalization to make sense of the explanations offered by his patients for their neurotic symptoms.

Basically, rationalization is a form of denial that allows us to avoid conflict and the frustration that it generates. How do we do it? We look for reasons apparently logical to justify or cover up errors, weaknesses or contradictions that we do not want to accept or with which we do not know how to deal.

In practice, rationalization is a rejection mechanism that allows us to deal with emotional conflicts or internal or external stressful situations by inventing reassuring but incorrect explanations for our own or others thoughts, actions or feelings in order to cover up the true motives.

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Understanding Rationalization: Making Excuses As An Effective Manipulation Tactic

Effective manipulation tactics simultaneously put others on the defensive while also obscuring or denying the malevolent intent of the person using them. Such tactics are particularly effective on neurotic individuals especially those who always want to think the best of people and who strive hard to understand what would make a person behave in a problematic way.

I recently finished posting a series of articles on the erroneous patterns of thinking common to individuals with significant disturbances of character. The next series of posts will explore some behavior patterns that typically accompany those erroneous patterns of thinking.

Disordered characters tend to engage in certain automatic behaviors that simultaneously serve the purposes of justifying antisocial behavior, resisting any subordination of their wills to a higher authority, manipulating and controlling others, and managing the impressions others have of them and the nature of their character. In the end, by frequently engaging in these behaviors disturbed characters reinforce in their own minds the notion that their preferred way of doing things is okay and there is no need to change their ways of relating to others.

How Can People Stop Rationalizing


People may not recognize when they make excuses for their behavior or others. One way to overcome this defense mechanism is to develop the ability to accept the truth without that harming your entire identity. Even if you failed to achieve a goal or faced bitter rejection, acknowledge the loss and recognize that everyone makes mistakes or faces obstacles at times.

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What Is Rationalization Psychology And How Can I Benefit From It

Medically Reviewed By: Avia James

Life can be hard. Relationships can be heartbreaking. How do you manage the hurt, anger, and fear that can come with not getting what you want? Rationalization can provide an answer, but you may not like the long-term effects of doing it habitually. Long-term usage of rationalization psychology can be viewed as an unhealthy coping strategy, but why is that? Learning what rationalization is, why we find it so appealing, and the damage it can cause can help you understand the nuances of mental health, and how you can set yourself up for success in the future.

How Do We Define Rationalization In Psychology?

What is this thing called rationalization that seems to make life so much more bearable? Dorland’s Medical Dictionary for Health Consumers 2007 defines it as:

‘an unconscious defense mechanism by which one justifies attitudes and behaviors that would otherwise be unacceptable.’

Breaking down this rationalization psychology definition can help you understand it even better. Look at the term ‘defense mechanism. What does that mean, exactly? Encyclopedia Britannica defines this term as:

Rationalization makes you feel more at ease because it resolves this cognitive dissonance. You may feel less anxiety because the rationalization helps you explain to yourself why what you did or what happened to you resulted in a positive outcome.

What Can You Accomplish Through Rationalization?

Rationalization can serve a variety of purposes. It can:

Rationalizing And Being Rational

Despite the similarities in these terms, rationalizing is in no way related to being rational. While rationality is all about reasoning, rationalizing has more to do with excuses.

You dont get a particular job you say you never wanted it in the first place. You get turned down for a date you say you were not attracted to the person anyway. You dont perform well in the class test you try to reason that you didnt get enough time to study.

If these scenarios seem all too familiar to you, then you have already experienced rationalization albeit, inadvertently. We will get into the details of these examples, but before that, lets get well-versed with the meaning of this concept.

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What Does Rationalization Mean In Psychology

You may rationalize in two steps:

  • You perform an action or make a decision for no apparent reason or for a given reason.
  • You then use rationalization to justify the action after the fact, trying to make it more tolerable.
  • While most people rationalize on a somewhat regular basis, constant rationalization may lead to the encouragement of controversial or irrational behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. The process may be somewhat or fully conscious, where you try to protect yourself from ridicule, or unconscious, where you attempt to avoid unpleasant feelings such as guilt or shame.

    The Holocaust Modernity And Ambivalence

    Rationalization psychology – Know It ALL

    For Zygmunt Bauman, rationalization as a manifestation of modernity may be closely associated with the events of the Holocaust. In Modernity and Ambivalence, Bauman attempted to give an account of the different approaches modern society adopts toward the stranger. He argued that, on the one hand, in a consumer-oriented economy the strange and the unfamiliar is always enticing in different styles of food, different fashions and in tourism it is possible to experience the allure of what is unfamiliar.

    Yet this strange-ness also has a more negative side. The stranger, because he cannot be controlled and ordered, is always the object of fear he is the potential mugger, the person outside of society’s borders who is constantly threatening. Bauman’s most famous book, Modernity and the Holocaust, is an attempt to give a full account of the dangers of these kinds of fears. Drawing upon Hannah Arendt and Theodor Adorno‘s books on totalitarianism and the Enlightenment, Bauman argues that the Holocaust should not simply be considered to be an event in Jewish history, nor a regression to pre-modern barbarism. Rather, he says, the Holocaust should be seen as deeply connected to modernity and its order-making efforts. Procedural rationality, the division of labour into smaller and smaller tasks, the taxonomic categorization of different species, and the tendency to view rule-following as morally good all played their role in the Holocaust coming to pass.

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    Rationalization In Everyday Life

    In the world of defense mechanisms, rationalization is fairly common. People may not realize when they offer a small excuse or justification. Although this is natural, confronting reality, even when its difficult, can be an important step to changing harmful habits in realms such as relationships, finances, and more.

    Examples Of Rationality Applied To Different Fields

    Individuals or organizations are called rational if they make optimal decisions in pursuit of their goals. It is in these terms that one speaks, for example, of a rational allocation of resources, or of a rational corporate strategy. For such “rationality”, the decision maker’s goals are taken as part of the model, and not made subject to criticism, ethical or otherwise.

    Debates arise in these four fields about whether or not people or organizations are “really” rational, as well as whether it makes sense to model them as such in formal models. Some have argued that a kind of bounded rationality makes more sense for such models.

    Others think that any kind of rationality along the lines of rational choice theory is a useless concept for understanding human behavior the term homo economicus was coined largely in honor of this view.

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    Can You Teach Yourself To Be Flexible

    You can train to become more flexible. Flexibility is stretching amplified. You must stretch to become flexible, but it is an almost daily routine and process. It doesn’t have to take up all your time, but flexibility training allows your body to grow stronger and prevents dreaded injuries.14 .. 2556

    The Meaning Of Rationalization In Psychology Explained With Examples

    Understand Concept of Rationalization with Examples

    Rationalization is one of the most common defense mechanisms. Here, we shed light on the meaning of rationalization, and put forth some examples of the concept to make it easier for you to get well-versed with it.

    Rationalization is one of the most common defense mechanisms. Here, we shed light on the meaning of rationalization, and put forth some examples of the concept to make it easier for you to get well-versed with it.

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    Which Split Is The Easiest

    Common stretches such as lunges and hamstrings stretches activate muscles for the front splits. The side splits require you to stretch muscles you may not normally stretch like the inner thigh and groin. Thus, the side split is easier to get but it’s more common to stretch muscles required to do the front splits.

    What Is An Example Of Denial

    Many people use denial in their everyday lives to avoid dealing with painful feelings or areas of their life they donât wish to admit.

    For example, a husband may refuse to recognise obvious signs of his wifeâs infidelity. A student may refuse to recognise their obvious lack of preparedness for an exam!

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    Here Are Some More Examples Of This Defense Mechanism

    When a person is asked to resign because of not being a good performer, he convinces himself that he was going to quit very soon anyway , and now he will be able to do things, like travel to places and make time for friends, which he has been longing to do .

    When an individual gets turned down for a date, he convinces himself about two things: the rejection is not an issue, because as it is both of them wanted different things in life, and he is now free to find a suitable partner. While the first excuse amounts to the case of sour grapes rationalization, the second excuse amounts to sweet lemons rationalization.

    Despite knowing that smoking can lead to lung cancer, which is a life-threatening condition, smokers try to rationalize their act by coming up with excuses like, only heavy smokers are at the risk of lung cancer, or that everyone must die some day, so why not enjoy life when you can.

    When parents punish their child for his own good, it need not necessarily be the case. At times, for instance, parents may punish the child for not studying well, and justify it by saying that if he doesnt study he wont get admission in a prestigious college. At the unconscious level, however, they might be more worried about how the childs failure to get admission in a prestigious college will reflect on their social status.

    Lastly, rationalization should not be confused with deception the latter occurs when you know the truth, but try to fool other people.

    How Is Rationalization Addressed In Therapy

    Rationalization in Psychology I Defense Mechanisms I Emotional Intelligence I Social Intelligence

    A therapist may observe instances in which a person consistently offers seemingly confusing excuses or reasoning, and then ask questions to understand if the patient may be obscuring deeper emotions.

    For example, if a patient refuses to send his kids to sleepovers, staunchly claiming that children should always be focused on schoolwork, the therapist might probe his response and later discover that he was abused during a sleepover as a child. The therapist can then help the patient process that experience and develop coping skills to move forward.

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    The Need For Rationalization

    There are several reasons that a particular organization might need to go through the process of rationalization. They include the need to:

    • Reduce costs
    • Eliminate unnecessary products and idle capacity
    • Update old machinery and other business processes

    The process of rationalizing is especially common during recessions and after corporate actions such as a merger, acquisition, or new CEO hire.

    When Does Rationalizing Become A Problem

    Rationalization can be adaptive as it protects us from emotions and motivations that we would not be able to manage at that time. We can all put into practice the odd defense mechanism without our behavior being considered pathological. What really makes rationalization problematic is the rigidity with which it manifests itself and its prolonged extension over time.

    In fact, Kristin Laurin, a psychologist at the University of Waterloo, has carried out a series of interesting experiments in which she shows that we often resort to rationalization when we believe that the facts are not going backwards. In practice, it is a kind of surrender because we assume that there is no point in continuing to fight.

    In one of the experiments, participants read that lowering speed limits in cities would make people safer and that rulers had decided to lower them. Some of those people were told that the legislation would go into effect, but others were told that there was a possibility that the law would be rejected.

    Those who believed that the speed limit would be lowered showed greater support for the change and looked for logical reasons to accept those new measures, compared to people who thought there was a possibility that it would not happen. That means that rationalization can help us deal with a reality that we cannot change.

    However, the risks of using rationalization as a habitual coping mechanism usually far outweigh the specific benefits that it could bring us:

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    How Can I Stop Rationalizing And Save My Relationship

    How you prevent rationalization from damaging your relationship often depends on who the person rationalizing is. If your partner is the one doing it, you may try speaking with them or attending a couples workshop to help them address their problematic behaviors. However, there may be little you can do to actually change their behavior unless they are willing to work on themselves.

    The process would be quite different if youre the one rationalizing. Naturally, becoming more aware of your rationalization attempts would be the logical first step. Furthermore, you may want to try and explore any underlying reasons for your behavior.

    Whats An Example Of Rationalization

    Rationalization psychology

    You can rationalize in an endless variety of ways. Some common examples may include the following statements:

    • Im not upset that I wasnt promoted. I never wanted the responsibility anyway.
    • I worked out this morning I deserve this slice of pizza.
    • So what if I fear the dark. Most crimes happen when its dark, thats a fact.
    • I must have done something wrong, they wouldnt treat me like this if I didnt.
    • Ok, I messed up on that exam, but at least I took it.
    • He cheated But at least he told me. I may give him another chance.

    Youve probably heard similar statements in your life at least a couple of times. This is because rationalization is quite common, thanks to its ability to disguise itself as an apparently rational way of thinking.

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    What Is An Example Of Identification With The Aggressor

    An extreme example of this is the Stockholm Syndrome, where hostages establish an emotional bond with their captor and take on their behaviors.

    Patty Hearst was abused and raped by her captors, yet she joined their Symbionese Liberation Army and even took part in one of their bank robberies. At her trial, she was acquitted because she was a victim suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

    What Are The Problems Of Adolescence

    The most common problems among adolescents relate to growth and development, school, childhood illnesses that continue into adolescence, mental health disorders, and the consequences of risky or illegal behaviors, including injury, legal consequences, pregnancy, infectious diseases, and substance use disorders.

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    Advantages And Disadvantages Of Rationalization

    Rationalization helps companies standardize business processes in order to become more efficient and boost productivity.

    It lets management introduce modern techniques and systems, allowing workers to improve their efficiency levels. In turn, rationalization can lead to better working conditions and higher pay for the workforce, ultimately leading to a higher standard of living in society.

    Additionally, rationalization can translate into both reduced prices and a higher standard of products for consumers.

    On the other hand, rationalization often focuses too much on efficiency at the expense of human capital. The emphasis on modernization and standardization often has negative consequences such as mass layoffs, a loss of initiative from the workforce, a significantly increased workload for the workers that remain, and a worse-off work environment.

    Moreover, the process of rationalization is costly, requires consistent monitoring, and provides no guarantee of improved returns.

    • Helps companies become more efficient and boost productivity

    • Allows management to implement modernized techniques and systems

    • Lowers market volatility

    • Can provide the workforce with better working conditions and higher pay

    • Translates into a higher standard of living in society

    • Can lead to lower prices and better products for consumers

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