Why Married People Are Smug and Singles So Carefree

TIME:

If you’re single, you can’t seem to get away from the couple who won’t stop cooing and talking about how great it is to be in a relationship and how relieved they are to be spared from the horrors of dating.  And if you’re married, you can’t stop hearing from singles about how marriage is a hellish trap and their own commitment-free life is a blissful expression of their independence.

The study, which will be published in Psychological Science, is based on the theory of “cognitive dissonance,” a phenomenon first described in the 1950s. If you are deeply committed to a belief and have acted in ways that you think are irreversible as a result, it’s often easier to change your other beliefs and actions than it is to question the original idea.

“Cognitive dissonance happens when we’ve made a choice and we’re not 100% satisfied with it or it goes against something we believe,” says Kristin Laurin, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University, the lead author of the study,  “We feel uncomfortable, so what we do is adapt our attitudes so now the choice fits better with the attitude.”

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