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

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Apr 28, 2020 - Psychology - 304 pages

A NEW EDITION UPDATED IN 2020  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When we make mistakes, cling to outdated attitudes, or mistreat other people, we must calm the cognitive dissonance that jars our feelings of self-worth.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 decades of research, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) offers a fascinating explanation of self-justification—how it works, the damage it can cause, and how we can overcome it. Extensively updated, this third edition has many recent and revealing examples, including the application of dissonance theory to divisive social issues such as the Black Lives Matter movement and he said/she said claims. It also features a new chapter that illuminates how cognitive dissonance is playing a role in the currently polarized political scene, changing the nation’s values and putting democracy itself at risk. 

“Every page sparkles with sharp insight and keen observation. Mistakes were made—but not in this book!” —Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness

“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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User Review  - kapheine - LibraryThing

This book turned out to be really interesting. In some ways it felt like it was rehashing the same points with different stories, but they were good points. Most importantly, I think it did a decent ... Read full review

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User Review  - Damiella - LibraryThing

I enjoy this kind of book on occassion and I did find it interesting to delve into how people can deceive themselves to maintain their view of themselves as 'good people'. There were some bits which ... Read full review


The Engine of SelfJustification
2 Pride and Prejudice and Other Blind Spots
3 Memory the SelfJustifying Historian
The Closed Loop of Clinical Judgment
5 Law and Disorder
SelfJustification in Marriage
7 Wounds Rifts and Wars
8 Letting Go and Owning Up
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About the author (2020)

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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