Irrational People: Cracking The Code

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Do you find yourself getting frustrated or annoyed when people make irrational decisions? Have you ever wished people would just listen to logic and good sense instead of their emotions? If so, you’re not alone. Most of us live on the irrational side of things at some point in our life.

In this blog post, let’s understand the psychology of irrationality and 10 ways to deal with irrational people.

Photo by 愚木混株 cdd20 on Unsplash

What is the irrationality of the mind?

The irrationality of the mind is our thoughts that have no reason, logic, or understanding. Such ideas stem from beliefs based on past experiences, positive or negative. In the long term, these irrational thoughts may lead to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, and psychosis. 

Sometimes, irrational behavior happens due to emotional reactions when making difficult decisions. When we face a situation like this, the person may have a strong burst of emotions that seems unreasonable. And this initiates irrational thoughts and actions.

Irrational thoughts can form from several factors, including anxiety and anxiousness. They are also common in people who have been through traumatic experiences or who face such situations frequently. 

Furthermore, irrationality is an inherent part of the human thought process.

Your mind is as unique as your fingerprints — no two are alike.


The Psychology of Irrationality

Experts discuss irrationality in psychotherapy. Mostly in Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), developed by American psychologist Albert Ellis in 1955. 

According to this approach, irrational thoughts and behaviors stem from emotional responses that drive them. In particular, Ellis argues that our emotional responses can sometimes cause us to engage in irrational thinking and actions.

It includes things like conviction and appearance biases, like being overly confident or appearing confident when we are not, which can lead to harmful decisions and behaviors.

Irrational thoughts can stem from anxiety and mental health conditions like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. However, people must recognize these thoughts and challenge them. By recognizing and challenging irrational thoughts regularly, people can learn to manage their reactions to irrational thinking.

Also, our amygdala is responsible for fear, anger, and contempt. It sometimes overrides our ability to think clearly.

Understanding the amygdala’s influence on our emotions is key to developing empathy and building rapport, especially when dealing with individuals who are often labeled “impossible people.”

According to Mark Goulston, a renowned psychiatrist, negative personality disorders are often the result of cognitive distortions or distorted thinking patterns that contribute to negativity and contempt.

Recognizing these distortions is the first step towards developing self-control and managing irrational reactions in both personal and professional life. Once we understand how cognitive distortions contribute to negativity, we shift our thinking patterns.

Cognitive Biases, How do they affect decision-making?

Cognitive biases are like tricks that our brains play on us. They influence our decisions, sometimes without us knowing it.

For example, we decide based on what we remember instead of considering all the facts. Or we may think something is more likely to happen just because it happened recently. 

The Role of Emotions, How can emotions influence behavior?

Emotional responses can affect our decisions, leading to irrational behavior. For example, when making a difficult choice, people often prioritize their emotional needs over their rational ones.

This more often results in poor choice or decision-making. Instead of prioritizing rationality, people may opt for quick or easy solutions that satisfy their emotional cravings.

As noted in ScienceDirect, Our brain has three functions: 

  • The Reptilian Lower Brain
  • The Paleomammalian Middle Brain
  • The Neomammalian Upper Brain

These functions work together to make decisions and rationalize behavior. 

When emotions are involved in decision-making, it is often because the Reptilian Lower Brain is processing information quickly and making immediate decisions based on emotions rather than logic. 

The Paleomammalian Middle Brain then analyzes and rationalizes these decisions further, potentially leading to irrational behavior as it struggles to balance immediate impulses with longer-term goals. 

The Neomammalian Upper Brain is responsible for weighing evidence and making more considered decisions based on logic rather than emotion. 

However, this function often goes unnoticed as people automatically rely on emotions when making important decisions.

The Power of Belief: The impact of beliefs on irrational behavior.

We all know that people often overestimate what they can control in life.

This phenomenon, known as the ‘illusion of control,‘ can lead people to irrational and painful decisions. 

Our beliefs are ideas about reality that usually influences how we feel and react. Let’s say you think you are awful at soccer. You might feel apprehensive about joining a soccer team or playing with your buddies, even if you are skilled at it. It may be illogical, like avoiding something you want. Recognizing and challenging our beliefs is critical.

Types of Irrational Behavior

Irrational thinking is wild, illogical thoughts and behaviors. It can include unprovoked anger, irritability, and impulsive behavior.

Remember, only a trained health professional can diagnose irrational behavior.

Cognitive Dissonance, How can conflicting beliefs lead to irrational behavior?

Hmm! Cognitive dissonance. Let’s see – it’s like a puzzle with pieces from two different puzzles – they don’t fit. It can make people feel confused or stressed. Sometimes, people ignore or hide information that doesn’t match their beliefs. You must have seen this at your school or the office.

For example, let’s say you love animals but also eat meat. You might feel uncomfortable when you stumble on a video of how people treat animals on a farm. 

When you closely observe, you will ignore the information or even believe that it’s not true because you don’t want to give up meat. This is cognitive dissonance.

To make better choices, think carefully about all the information and try to understand the feeling. 

So now, ask yourself. “Does this make sense?”

Superstitions and Magical Thinking: Believing in things that have no basis in reality

Superstitions are irrational beliefs about actions, objects, or events that will bring luck or misfortune. Common superstitions and magical thinking beliefs include believing in luck, good omens, and the power of certain rituals or objects. 

It can also include compulsive behaviors, avoidance of objects or situations, and intense fear of the unknown. Irrational behavior related to superstitions and magical thinking is quite common. These behaviors can range from excessive risk-taking to obsessive behaviors such as cleaning. 

Confirmation Bias: Only looking for evidence that confirms pre-existing beliefs

Confirmation bias pushes people to search for evidence that confirms their own views. They drive emotions of pain or pleasure, which can lead to many other tendencies. 

One example of this bias is when salespeople are passionate about their products, and it can be deceptive. This behavior can be countered by skeptically studying the evidence and seeking out evidence that disagrees with what one and others want to believe. 

So, it is always better to question our beliefs and be okay to change them when we get a clear picture.

10 Tips for Dealing with Irrational People

  1. Remain calm

    If someone is acting irrationally, stay calm and don’t let their behavior upset your mind.

  2. Listen carefully

    Listen to everything they say, though it makes no sense to you. Sometimes their perspective will lead you to a new understanding that had blinded you.

  3. Empathize

    Imagine yourself in their situation and try to understand why they are feeling upset or frustrated.

  4. Manage your tone

    Speak calmly to help them manage the situation.

  5. Don’t argue

    It’s not helpful to argue with someone who is acting irrationally. Instead, see what works for them.

  6. Validate their feelings

    Acknowledge them and give importance to what they speak.

  7. Avoid blame

    There is no point in the blame game; you won’t get anywhere with this.

  8. Take a break

    If the situation becomes overwhelming, take a break! Restart the conversation when they get some time to breathe.

  9. Offer solutions

    Try to offer solutions to the problem instead of dwelling on the irrational behavior.

  10. Seek help

    Remember, you cannot solve all the problems. Sometimes, ask for help. There is no shame in it.


When encountering irrational people, remember that they feel a particular way and try to make sense of the world around them.

Try not to take things personally. Instead, focus on listening carefully and empathizing with their feelings.

Finally, offer solutions instead of dwelling on irrational behavior.

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