Rationalization

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  • A defense mechanism whereby individuals attempt to justify their behavior by creating false, though plausible, explanations of behavior to themselves and others. For example, after getting caught cutting class by the principal, a student might justify his or her actions by pointing out that other students have engaged in the same behavior. It is one of the ego defense mechanisms identified by Sigmund Freud, falling within his conceptualization of personality structure (which comprises the id, ego, and superego). Ego defense mechanisms are thought to serve as an intermediary when internal conflicts arise between one's immediate gratification-seeking id and one's morally principled superego. Rationalization, along with other defense mechanisms, is thought to represent an unconscious response suppressing undesirable feelings from reaching conscious levels of awareness. For ...

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