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

3.9 23
by Carol Tavris, Elliot Aronson
 

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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?

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Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The authors intended to explain our behavior when we justify, rationalize and insist we were right when faced with the embarrassment of publicity of unintentional harm [often backed up by intentional harm.] The phenomenon of ¿acting out of a need to protect their egos¿ is ubiquitous, and even a poorly written book on the topic will be beneficial by reminding us how corruptible we are. Nevertheless, the authors have selected an explanation called ¿dissonance theory¿ and insist that it can explain just about any corrupt behavior. The problems with this overzealous application of this theory are 1--the book lacks evidence in the form of references to research on dissonance theory--the few experiments described were not originally about dissonance theory, but the authors nevertheless cavalierly rework conclusions to make it seem as proof of their theory. Thus scientific evidence becomes merely anecdotal evidence. One example of this is explaining the behavior of subjects in Milgram¿s experiment that they justified to themselves each progressive shock they administered. The actual research shows no such thing in fact the subjects themselves self-reported that they actually believed they lacked the necessary authority to determine whether or not to administer shocks, and therefore they believed that the burden was on the mock researcher, not them, to justify these decisions 2--the book ignores conventional explanations for corrupt behavior, providing no evidence against them nor for their own explanation. An example of this is saying that people continue to cheat on tests in order to justify the initial decision to cheat on a previous test, rather than that people continue to cheat because they have discovered that the consequences weren¿t as bad as they had feared 3--a neglect of differentiating factors among the various behaviors and their self-justifications: whether they followed up with narratives of the behavior or more cases of similar behavior, whether the initial behavior or its consequences were intentional or unintentional, whether the error or wrongdoing was ever publicized, whether the justification was of oneself or of other members of one¿s group, etc. In comparing experimental psychologists [presumably the authors themselves] with therapists behaving unethically, they write that science, because it depends on research, is ¿a form of arrogance control¿, which is ironic, because this is an arrogant self-excuse to convince the reader that the authors would not overapply an explanation of symptoms--the very thing the authors accuse repressed-memory theorists of doing. Nevertheless, dissonance theory likely can be used to understand certain behaviors, and the class of events as a whole comprised of malicious behavior motivated by ego preservation is very important to study.
Skeptical-DoDo More than 1 year ago
I was wonderfully impressed by the clarity and relevance of the material to actual life situations. As a student of errors this book has a lot to recommend it, as it give insights that become relevant in many aspects of life and profession. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who wishes to understand human nature and how it so easy for us, as human beings, to make mistakes and then twist facts to protect our own self images. It was great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite non-fiction book so far. I've owned (and lost to friends) many copies of this book. I keep reading it and re-reading it and never get bored. It gives an insight on how people justify things (beliefs, decisions, "mistakes"..) in an attempt to convince themselves and with time they just believe the lie ... Till you buy it too. A must-read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Brilliant insights into a tendency we all have of deflecting blame, with great examples. The chapter on criminal justice iso particularly enlightening.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For anybody interested in learning more about the mystery that is us!
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I would give this book 0 stars if I could.