You and your friend took up an exam to your top choice University. Weeks later, you received an email from the said school saying that you passed but when you asked your friend, he said he didn’t. Instead of showing how frustrated he was that he didn’t make it while you did, he just said the school isn’t his top choice and it’s yours anyway. Your friend is in a situation where he is sour graping.
Sour grapes is a term derived from Aesop’s fable, The Fox & the Grapes.
The Fox & the Grapes
A Fox one day spied a beautiful bunch of ripe grapes hanging from a vine trained along the branches of a tree. The grapes seemed ready to burst with juice, and the Fox’s mouth watered as he gazed longingly at them.
The bunch hung from a high branch, and the Fox had to jump for it. The first time he jumped he missed it by a long way. So he walked off a short distance and took a running leap at it, only to fall short once more. Again and again he tried, but in vain.
Now he sat down and looked at the grapes in disgust.
“What a fool I am,” he said. “Here I am wearing myself out to get a bunch of sour grapes that are not worth gaping for.”
And off he walked very, very scornfully.
The Fox and the Grapes gave way to the term “sour grape” which the Merriam Webster defined as disparagement of something that has proven unattainable his criticisms are just sour grapes.
Neel Burton M.D. explained that these are just some of the various ways on how people tend to rationalize a situation that is hard to accept (sour grapes) or “to make it seem not so bad after all (sweet lemons)” in defense for someone’s ego.
In the case of the fox, he perceives himself to be agile and clever but he cannot reach the grapes on the branch (dissonance). Instead of accepting the fact that he was not good enough to reach the grapes, he rationalized the situation with the thought that the grapes are sour anyway. This lessens the dissonance and in defense to his ego or self-image.
When people can’t attain something they want, they put it down.
“When people can’t attain something they want, they put it down,” said Joshua Spodek. “The greater the discrepancy, the greater the need to resolve the internal conflict, so the less secure the person, the deeper the insult.”
Most people do sour graping for them to just brush off the negative situation that has happened instead of accepting the painful truth and hurting their ego. In a person-to-person situation such as liking someone, this can be more risky. For instance, you like someone but that person rejected you and told you that he/she prioritize his/her studies first. Instead of accepting the reason why you got rejected, you thought he/she isn’t cut out for you anyway, and started calling him/her a nerd, wimp and many other insults. Now the person you like before will feel bad about the things you told, and the long argument goes on.
That’s how people cope up with things they can’t have in order to please their discomfort or not hurt their ego.
Human beings are not rational, but rationalizing animals.
“Human beings are not rational, but rationalizing animals. If they find it frightening to think and painful to change, this is in large part because thinking and changing represent major threats to the beliefs that make up their sense of self,” said Neel Burton M.D.
People who tend to sour grape will do this in the long run, they will always tend to rationalize things that they can’t have by sour graping. If they won’t then they have to accept the painful truth and cope on the situation by changing themselves, adapt on why they were not cut out for it and may even result to their improvement, which is in fact, even a better way rather than putting down things to conform on one’s ego.
Featured photo source: miriadna.com