Self-Deception I: Rationalization

The second rationalization (that the rejection has freed her to find a more suitable partner) is a case of making it seem ‘not so bad after all’, also called ‘sweet lemons’.

.. A teenager who fails to get a place at a top university tells herself that one of the interviewers on the interview panel was sexist (sour grapes), and that taking a gap year to re-apply is going to give her a precious opportunity to travel and see the world (sweet lemons). The teenager uses these rationalizations to reduce the psychological discomfort of holding contradictory beliefs or thoughts (‘cognitions’), on the one hand the cognition that she is intelligent enough to get into the top university, and on the other hand the cognition that she failed to do so. She could have reduced this so-called ‘cognitive dissonance‘ by adapting her self-image (‘I am perhaps not so intelligent as I thought’), but finds it less challenging to undermine, that is, to rationalize, the inconsistent cognition of her rejection by the top university.

.. Rationalization is used to great comic effect in Candide: Or, Optimism, the satirical masterpiece of the 18th century Enlightenment thinker Voltaire. The novella is an attack on Leibniz’s philosophy that our world is the best of all possible worlds

.. it was a thing unavoidable, a necessary ingredient in the best of worlds; for if Columbus had not caught in an island in America this disease, which contaminates the source of generation, and frequently impedes propagation itself, and is evidently opposed to the great end of nature, we should have had neither chocolate nor cochineal…