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Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me)
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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 make mistakes? 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? Renowned social psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson take a compelling look into how the brain is wired for self-justification. When we make mistakes, we must calm the cognitive dissonance that jars our feelings of self-worth. And so 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 and delivered in lively, energetic prose, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) offers a fascinating explanation of self-deception - how it works, the harm it can cause, and how we can overcome it.
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Table of Contents

Knaves, Fools, Villains, and Hypocrites: How Do They Live with Themselves? Cognitive Dissonance: The Engine of Self-justificationPride and Prejudice... and Other Blind SpotsMemory, the Self-justifying HistorianGood Intentions, Bad Science: The Closed Loop of Clinical JudgmentLaw and Disorder Love's Assassin: Self-justification in MarriageWounds, Rifts, and WarsLetting Go and Owning UpAfterwordEndnotes Index

About the Author

Dr. Carol Tavris's work as a writer, teacher, and lecturer has been devoted to educating the public about psychological science. She has spoken to students, psychologists, mediators, lawyers, judges, physicians, business executives, and general audiences on, among other topics, self-justification; science and pseudoscience in psychology; gender and sexuality; critical thinking; and anger. In the legal arena, she has given many addresses and workshops to attorneys and judges on the difference between testimony based on good psychological science and that based on pseudoscience and subjective clinical opinion.Elliot Aronson's primary research interests are in the general area of social influence. His experiments have been aimed both at testing theory and at improving the human condition by influencing people to change their dysfunctional attitudes and behavior (e.g., prejudice, bullying, wasting of water, energy and other environmental resources). Professor Aronson is the only psychologist ever to have won APA's highest awards in all three major academic categories: For distinguished writing (1973), for distinguished teaching (1980), and for distinguished research (1999). In 2002, he was listed among the 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th Century (APA Monitor, July/August, 2002). In 2007 he received the William James Award for Distinguished Research from APS. Elliot Aronson is currently Professor Emeritus at the University of California in Santa Cruz. He has long-standing research interests in social influence and attitude change, cognitive dissonance, research methodology, and interpersonal attraction. Professor Aronson's experiments are aimed both at testing theory and at improving the human condition by influencing people to change dysfunctional attitudes and behaviours. Professor Aronson received his B.A. from Brandeis University in 1954, his M.A. from Wesleyan University in 1956, and his Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University in 1959. He has taught at Harvard University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Texas, and the University of California. In 1999, he won the American Psychological Association's Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, making him the only psychologist to have won APA's highest awards in all three major academic categories: distinguished writing (1973), distinguished teaching (1980), and distinguished research (1999).

Reviews

"By turns entertaining, illuminating and - when you recognise yourself in the stories it tells - mortifying." The Wall Street Journal

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