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Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts Paperback – Mar 31 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; 1 edition (March 31 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156033909
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156033909
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #34,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

PRAISE FOR CAROL TAVRIS’S ANGER

"Witty, provocative, and impressively documented, this work lights a candle in cursed darkness."—LOS ANGELES TIMES

PRAISE FOR ELLIOT ARONSON’S THE SOCIAL ANIMAL

"A rare gem of a book, easy to read but also scientifically sophisticated."—CONTEMPORARY SOCIOLOGY



"Social psychologists Tavris and Aronson, each of whom has published other works, here tackle "the inner workings of self-justification," the mental gymnastics that allow us to bemoan the mote in our brother's eye while remaining blissfully unaware of the beam in our own. Their prose is lively, their research is admirable and their examples of our arrogant follies are entertaining and instructive."

"A fascinating book... I recommend it to anyone who enjoys psychological and sociological studies. Sometimes floored, sometimes angry, sometimes sad, sometimes amused, but always interested, I can only hope that I will be able to apply some of what I learned in my own life."

"A pathbreaking book that could change forever how leaders think about the decisions they make . Crackles with new insights and understanding. A must read!"



"This book should make it to the top of most summer reading lists. It speaks to the forces that keep us repeating harmful mistakes, whether it's an everyday personal issue or an organization-wide problem. I'm interested in reading this book for a deeper window into my own behavior, but also for insight into the reasons that corruption persists around the world and vexes so many organizational and individual efforts to fight it."

"In this pre-election time, Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson's book bears a very prescient message: Just how does one learn from one's mistakes if one refuses to admit culpability? With straightforward language and a readable style, Tavris and Aronson's book will open your eyes and improve your life - that is, it will if you let it."

"This book is charming and delightful. But mainly, it's just damn smart. Armed with reams of scientific data and loads of real-world anecdotes, Tavris and Aronson explain how politicians, pundits, doctors, lawyers, psychotherapists--and oh yes, the rest of us--come to believe that we are right and reasonable... and why we maintain that dangerous self-deception in the face of glaring evidence to the contrary. Every page sparkles with sharp insight and keen observation. Mistakes were made--but not in this book!"



"To err is human, to rationalize even more so. Now, thanks to this brilliant book, we can finally see how and why even the best meaning people may justify terrible behavior. Mistakes Were Made will not turn us into angels, but it is hard to think of a better -- or more readable -- guide to the mind's most devilish tricks."



"Tavris and Aronson-a dream team of two of psychology’s greatest communicators—investigate our self-serving explanations and malleable memories, explaining how well-meaning people stay the course when pursuing ill-fated ventures, then shuck responsibility when failure arrives. This is a fascinating exploration of our astonishing powers of self-justification."



"Combining far-ranging scholarship with lucid, witty prose, Tavris and Aronson illuminate many of the mysteries of human behavior -- why hypocrites never see their own hypocrisy, why couples so often misremember their shared history, why many people persist in courses of action that lead straight into quicksand. A delight to read, with surprising revelations in every chapter."



"This eye-opener of a book is essential reading, not because we've all made mistakes - certainly not! - but because we've all been victims of mistakes made by others. Why do these people behave so badly? Tavris and Aronson's explanation is illuminating, entertaining, based on solid science, and highly relevant to our public and private lives."



"Please, somebody, get a copy of this book to the President and his cabinet right away. Read it aloud into the Congressional Record. If this book doesn't change the way we think about our mistakes, then we're all doomed."



"A revelatory study of how lovers, lawyers, doctors, politicians--and all of us--pull the wool over our own eyes. The politician who can't apologize, the torturer who feels no guilt, the co-worker who'll say anything to win an argument--in case you've ever wondered how such people can sleep at night, a new book by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson supplies some intriguing and useful insights. Thanks, in part, to the scientific evidence it provides and the charm of its down-to-earth, commonsensical tone, Mistakes Were Made is convincing. 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. By the book's end, we're far more attuned to the ways in which we avoid admitting our missteps, and intensely aware of how much our own (and everyone's) lives would improve if we--and those who govern and lead us--understood the power and value of simply saying, 'I made a mistake. I'm sorry.'"

"Tavris and Aronson have combined their formidable skills to produce a gleaming model of social insight and scientific engagement. Make no mistake, you need to read this book."



"Written with the perfect combination of science and snap, this is a book that will change the way you think about self-deception--how it works, the harm it can cause, and how we can overcome it."



"Anecdote-rich...a ramble through the evasive tactics we employ when we've done something wrong and don't want to face up to it. "Mistakes Were Made" is by turns entertaining, illuminating and--when you recognize yourself in the stories it tells--mortifying. It is certainly true that we can be artful to the point of self-delusion when we feel guilt for something we have done."

"This book casts a bright and penetrating light on how and why nation-states, organizations, and individuals get into malignant messes. But it also shows how they (NOT us) cluelessly keep repeating these offensive, sometimes criminal acts. Tavris and Aronson don't let any of us off the hook but they do teach us how to avoid hanging ourselves on that hook again and again. One of the most needed and important books for our time."

From the Back Cover

Every page sparkles with sharp insight and keen observation. Mistakes were madebut not in this book! Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness Why do people dodge responsibility when things fall apart? Why the parade of public figures unable to own up when they screw up? Why the endless marital quarrels over who is right? Why can we see hypocrisy in others but not in ourselves? Are we all liars? Or do we really believe the stories we tell? Backed by years of research and delivered in lively, energetic prose, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) offers a fascinating explanation of self-deceptionhow it works, the harm it can cause, and how we can overcome it. "Hypocrisy is hardest to see in oneself. Tavris and Aronson, both social psychologists, demonstrate the whys and hows of this maxim by blending research with anecdotal evidence from celebrities, presidents, and CEOs."--Psychology Today "Thanks, in part, to the scientific evidence it provides and the charm of its down-to-earth, commonsensical tone, Mistakes Were Made is convincing. Reading it, we recognize the behavior of our leaders, our loved ones, andif we're honestourselves, and some of the more perplexing mysteries of human nature begin to seem a little clearer."Francine Prose, O, The Oprah Magazine 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. Visit www.MistakesWereMadeButNotByMe.com.

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IT'S FASCINATING, AND SOMETIMES funny, to read doomsday predictions, but it's even more fascinating to watch what happens to the reasoning of true believers when the prediction flops and the world keeps muddling along. Read the first page
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Conrad Kuiper on March 29 2009
Format: Paperback
I highly recommend this book. The insight you will gain into yourself and everyone around you makes it more than worth the price. I find myself muttering "cognitive dissonance" under my breath frequently whenever I observe people espousing ridiculous notions and defending irrational claims. It has helped me as a classroom to teacher to understand the motivations behind many of my students' behaviours. If you do not go to get this book, a mistake will have been made by you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Oliver TOP 500 REVIEWER on Jan. 3 2010
Format: Paperback
It is difficult to change your mind, and it is especially difficult to admit that you have made a mistake. This book explains how we become committed to our own initial decisions, even when all the evidence suggests we were wrong. The authors provide numerous real examples of people who made decisions that turned out to be mistakes, such prosecutors who successfully pursued criminal cases, only to later learn that the defendant was in fact innocent. It is very hard to admit you were wrong, after you put someone in jail for years.

Mistakes Were Made provides some wonderful insight into how the human mind works -- and how it often fails to work. No system is perfect, and the human mind, for all its abilities, is certainly no exception to that rule. Yet, by understanding the way the mind works, and the mistakes we are prone to make, we can learn to reduce those mistakes and improve ourselves. Everyone should read this book.
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Format: Paperback
There are so many books out there giving psychology a bad name. Tavis and Aronson get it. They demand the use of the scientific method in psychology and point out the differences between the ill-conceived ideas that lead to pseudo-psychology and the real deal. And the differences are vast. In the process, we are given insightful information (of the scientific variety) and thoughtful presentations. We are asked to think about our motives and our hard-wiring.

Every wonder why people say things that are obviously not true? How the Nazis could have been so far out there? How do people go on believing the end of the world is coming when it didn't end last year (as they predicted)? What about those folks who say they were abducted by aliens? How come the perfect marriage falls apart? Where do those sickos come from who exist in our society? How can juries of 12 honest people listen to the facts for a lengthy trial and then turn around and convict an innocent person or let a murderer go free?

This book provides us with sound well-researched answers. VERY insightful. I borrowed the book, but having read it, now I have to buy it. It is one I need to own. If you're the least bit interested in the inner workings of the human mind, this book will give you lots of facts and lots to think about.
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By Gil Broza on Nov. 28 2009
Format: Paperback
We all know that taking responsibility for our actions is the right thing to do. But why do so many people -- some of them very influential -- fail to do so?

This engaging book tells dozens of fascinating stories, some of them well-known historical accounts, some of them from the news. They come from medicine, the criminal justice system, marriage, and nations. In all these stories, people deal awkwardly with situations, make bad decisions, behave foolishly or cruelly, or hold strange beliefs. The stories alone would make this book a great read.

The common thread running through all the stories, the common reason for all the behaviours, is a simple subconscious act: self-justification.

The psychological term "cognitive dissonance" is well known: the tension that occurs when a person holds two inconsistent cognitions. Typically, one will be a thought, a belief or a value and the other will be something the person does or did. For instance, "eating a lot will make me fatter" and "I really like my coffee and cake every afternoon".

What few people seem to realize is how difficult it is for us to live with cognitive dissonance, and how self-justification automatically kicks in: the elaborate mental gymnastics we do to justify *to ourselves* what we've done. "The cake puts me in a good mood". "It's instead of a snack". "I just have to have it". "I exercise so much anyway".

The authors go to great lengths to explain that self-justification isn't just about clever excuses or not admitting mistakes. It's a natural subconscious mechanism that helps us go on living. The trouble with it -- which they communicate eloquently and unequivocally -- is that it often backfires, getting us deeper in trouble.

Some of their examples are chilling.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Tami Brady HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Oct. 7 2007
Format: Hardcover
Sometimes, I think that the world is full of hypocrites. The news is full of politicians who preach family values and then are caught in an affair. Everyday we see religious advocates who call for peace and in the same breath state that their God is the only true God. Then, there's the business world where lying and cheating seem to be part of the game.

Sometimes, I wonder how these people live with themselves.

Mistake Were Made (but not by me) addresses that exact question. It would seem that the human mind is designed to selectively remember and process information. Thus, the politician, religious leader, business person, or even ourselves often don't realize that we are being hypocritical. Moreover, as our actions and logic become further and further separated, we tend to hold tighter onto our original notions. Instead of admitting that we were wrong, we justify our actions even more strongly.

Mistake Were Made (but not by me) was a huge eye opener. People don't justify stupid decisions because they are bad people. On the contrary, no one wants to admit they are a fool. Look within, what beliefs do you fight the most adamantly about?
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