Monday, September 21, 2009

Cognitive dissonance

Saturday I explored the Delaware Canal in Pennsylvania. Very pleasant and at the furthest point of my walk I arrived in Yardley and went into town and stopped for breakfast in a diner. At the diner there were two restrooms. The lady's room had a line of four people. The men's room was free and I could walk right in. One of the nice features of being a man.

Inside the room had one toilet and no urinal. The thought occurred to me that to be equitable, the owner could make both of the restrooms unisex. That way, men and women could have an equal opportunity to use the facility, as the rooms themselves were identical. Then it occurred to me that since women take three times as long to use a facility as men, it would mean a longer wait for me personally.

Later I came to the conclusion that since people might forget to do the latch, a man could walk in on a woman doing her business and that that would be a bad thing. I decided that the way things were was the best way and also, coincidentally, the way that I would benefit from.

The most valuable thing I learned in psychology 101 in college was the rule of cognitive dissonance. You can see it in baseball where the runner honestly believes he is safe and the fielder honestly believes he tagged the man.

We all tend to believe things in our heart that benefit us personally. Hence the rule of cognitive dissonance. People who don't drive believe that gasoline should be more heavily taxed. People who commute by car believe that train fares are too low. The coffee was good too.

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