Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 5, 2008 - Psychology - 304 pages
18 Reviews

“Entertaining, illuminating and—when you recognize yourself in the stories it tells—mortifying.” —Wall Street Journal

“Every page sparkles with sharp insight and keen observation. Mistakes were made—but not in this book!” —Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness
 
Why is it so hard to say “I made a mistake”—and really believe it?
 
When we make mistakes, cling to outdated attitudes, or mistreat other people, we must calm the cognitive dissonance that jars our feelings of self-worth. And so, unconsciously, we create fictions that absolve us of responsibility, restoring our belief that we are smart, moral, and right—a belief that often keeps us on a course that is dumb, immoral, and wrong. Backed by years of research, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Meoffers a fascinating explanation of self-justification—how it works, the damage it can cause, and how we can overcome it. This updated edition features new examples and concludes with an extended discussion of how we can live with dissonance, learn from it, and perhaps, eventually, forgive ourselves.
 
“A revelatory study of how lovers, lawyers, doctors, politicians—and all of us—pull the wool over our own eyes . . . Reading it, we recognize the behavior of our leaders, our loved ones, and—if we’re honest—ourselves, and some of the more perplexing mysteries of human nature begin to seem a little clearer.” —Francine Prose, O, The Oprah Magazine


 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - CandaceVan - LibraryThing

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was well-written with fascinating examples, and while this paean to the power of self-justification was harrowing to read, in some way, the authors did a very ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - satyridae - LibraryThing

Fascinating and eye-opening analysis of cognitive dissonance and the steps we take to reduce the dissonance. Politicians are the easy targets, and exploited here as such, but Tavris & Aronson also ... Read full review

Contents

The Engine of SelfJustification
13
2 Pride and Prejudice and Other Blind Spots
52
3 Memory the SelfJustifying Historian
88
The Closed Loop of Clinical Judgment
122
5 Law and Disorder
164
SelfJustification in Marriage
206
7 Wounds Rifts and Wars
239
8 Letting Go and Owning Up
276
Back Matter
313
Back Cover
379
Spine
380
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About the author (2008)

CAROL TAVRIS is a social psychologist and author of Anger and The Mismeasure of Woman. She has written for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Scientific American, and many other publications. She lives in Los Angeles.
ELLIOT ARONSON is a social psychologist and author of The Social Animal. The recipient of many awards for teaching, scientific research, writing, and contributions to society, he is a professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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