Political Rationalizers: How We Lie to Ourselves

Available for Interviews: Roger Hall

Dr. Roger Hall has a doctorate in Counseling Psychology, is an Executive Coach to entrepreneurs and leaders, and is an in-demand public speaker throughout North America.


Talking Points from Roger Hall 
on How We Lie to Ourselves When it Comes to Politics:

  1.  Humans are an inherently self-deceptive species. We lie to ourselves about the quality of our choices. The more irrevocable the choice, the more we rationalize (tell ourselves “rational lies”).

Example: Buying a new TV. We lie to ourselves about why we want the TV.  Lower energy consumption, therefore better for the environment than your energy hog plasma TV. In reality, you want a bigger TV because it would be fun.  

Example: People who bought MG’s in the 1970’s and 1980’s. These people lie to themselves about the quality of the cars. They join MG car clubs where they sit on folding chairs in garages and talk to other people who have bought these lousy cars. If their car burns to the ground, what do they feel compelled to do?  Buy another one.  

  1.  If I publicly support a candidate or publicly disparage a candidate, the more I search for information and people who support my choice. 

Confirmation Bias: Is what psychological researchers call the search for information that supports our already made choice. We don’t look for information that may go against our preconceived belief.  

  1.  Search engines are here to aggravate the confirmation bias. Because they remember your previous searches, and attempt to be helpful, they put articles closer to the top that are consistent with your previous searches. As a result, you begin to see a narrower and narrower slice of all the available information.

Example: If you look for articles that are positive toward a candidate, you begin to get more and more articles that are consistent with that opinion.  Pretty soon, all you see of the world are articles that support your belief. As a result, you can’t imagine how anyone could view the world differently than you.  

  1.  Attitude Heuristic: If we hold a positive view of a person, we are more likely to believe false positive information about the person. If we hold a negative view of a person, the more likely we are to believe false negative information about the person.  

Example: A person who has carefully crafted a “bad as I want to be” image is Dennis Rodman. Ignore his records for rebounding and five NBA championships. Which are you more likely to believe: Dennis Rodman was arrested for petty theft as a teenager or Dennis Rodman was instrumental in the release of hostages from North Korea? Because of his “bad as I want to be” image, for many who don’t follow Dennis, they are more likely to believe the petty theft falsehood instead of the true hostage release information.   

As a result, if I hold a positive view of a candidate, I will be more likely to find and believe false positive information. If I hold a negative view of a candidate, I will be more likely to find and believe false positive information about that candidate. I’ll surround myself with people who agree with me and support my belief. 


  1. Watch news or visit internet sites who have a different political viewpoint than yours. Read what people who disagree with you are thinking.
  2. Assume best intent. We are likely to have negative attitudes about those who disagree with us and as a result, we are likely to believe the worst of them. We usually do not know the motives of others. Assuming best intent first is usually a good way to understand.
  3. Recognize that you lie to yourself. If you think you are perfectly rational, you are heading for trouble.


Interview: Roger Hall

Roger Hall, PhD, a business psychologist, executive coach, national speaker and author of Staying Happy Being Productive: The Big 10 Things Successful People Do and Expedition. He trains entrepreneurs, professionals, and business leaders to monitor and manage their thinking for peak performance.

Jo Allison
Managing Editor
Director of Public Relations
Success In Media, Inc.

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