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Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions and Hurtful Acts | [Carol Tavris, Elliot Aronson]

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

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-deception.
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Publisher's Summary

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-deception - how it works, the harm it can cause, and how we can overcome it.

©2008 Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"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." (Francine Prose, O, The Oprah Magazine)

"By turns entertaining, illuminating and—when you recognize yourself in the stories it tells—mortifying." (The Wall Street Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    Alexandra 03-08-14
    Alexandra 03-08-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Blew my expectations out of the water"

    I bought this book a long time ago as part of a sale, out of guilt. I know I have a really hard time admitting when I'm wrong, and hoped this book would help me get better at it. As you might imagine, this didn't make it seem like a fun read, so it was probably over a year before I listened to it.

    It was NOT what I expected. Based on the title and the cover, I thought it would be a very self-involved therapy type book that might or might not be useful. It turned out to be a big picture, scientifically rigorous examination of confirmation bias and the devastating effect it has in every field ranging from medicine to law to war to personal relationships. I wish they'd make it mandatory reading for everyone in law enforcement, law, government, medicine, and social work. That said, I think everyone can benefit from reading it. Although I personally hope I'm never interrogated by the police, after listening to this book I think I'm a lot less likely to screw up if I am.

    In the end, I think it could benefit from a little more "What can I personally do to make sure I catch myself when I'm falling prey to confirmation bias?" And "How can I get someone else stuck in confirmation bias to wake up?" The impression I got, though, was that science hasn't quite figured this out yet. I really hope they come out with an expanded, updated edition a few years from now. In the meantime, I'll recommend this version to everyone I know.

    I do hope they change the cover & font to reflect the professionalism of the contents better. I'd hate to think other people are making the same mistake I did and judging the book by its cover.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A Summerville, SC, United States 12-23-13
    A Summerville, SC, United States 12-23-13
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    "Excellent information"

    Well written and well "performed." Lots of useful, interesting information about how people behave and think. Be sure to read this book BEFORE you get arrested. I have no sympathy for criminals and am for swift justice, but this book really made me think.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Modderfontien, South Africa 11-03-13
    Peter Modderfontien, South Africa 11-03-13 Member Since 2013
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    "A true conscious raising book"

    This was a really good book, I was surprised because it was not my first choice for my credit but I'm pleased I bought it. Jamy Ian Swiss recommended this book on the JREF website so I thought I would give it go. This book will change the way you see the world, other people and yourself. It's truly eye opening to see how we justify things and will continue to do so even when the evidence shows that we are wrong. Every chapter goes through the various ways we go about justifying our actions. You realise how we are not entirely rational in our decision making.The narrators were excellent, they made the book enjoyable to listen too. I will recommend this books to friends and family. Read this book you will never look at the world the same ever again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda P-C The Tropics 05-16-13
    Linda P-C The Tropics 05-16-13

    Linda P-C

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    "Science and common sense"

    The material covered in this book should be made into a required class in every school in the world! It could be called 'Dissonance for Beginners'. So many people who make bad decisions and then stick to them in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary might be able to recognize this trait in themselves if they were aware that it is, and always has been, a common human reaction. The book itself is highly readable and contains a good number of practical examples of dissonance and the results thereof. Recommended - for everyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Venkata pramod paruchuri Texas, USA 05-07-13
    Venkata pramod paruchuri Texas, USA 05-07-13
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    "Repititive and Preachy"
    What would have made Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) better?

    Reduce number of examples probably.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson again?

    Probably Not


    Would you be willing to try another one of Marsha Mercant and Joe Barrett ’s performances?

    Depends on the book not the idiots who read it.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    The book was very informative and helps explain this we do and see around us.


    Any additional comments?

    Enough with the Republicans/Conservatives are cheating, lying idiots and corporations are evil, corrupt and Selfish Meme. Can we please move on...

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Phillips Alabama 03-16-13
    J. Phillips Alabama 03-16-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Great analysis of Cognitive Dissonance"
    What did you like best about Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)? What did you like least?

    It's not really a self help book, more of an analysis of how cognitive dissonance affects us on the personal, relationship, and political level. It's mildly interesting to me, the non-psychiatrist or psychologist.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    "Makes sense to me"


    Which character – as performed by Marsha Mercant and Joe Barrett – was your favorite?

    Didn't really have a favorite character


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    ...It'd be a documentary and probably not.


    Any additional comments?

    Worthy read if you want to understand why people are contradictory and how they justify themselves

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pat Houston, TX, United States 03-12-13
    Pat Houston, TX, United States 03-12-13 Member Since 2010

    Evening and Weekend Manager Lone Star College-Greenspoint Center Houston, TX 77060

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    "Who knew there was science behind making excuses?"
    What made the experience of listening to Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) the most enjoyable?

    Everyone who has had to fess up to something knows how hard it was to accept unmitigated responsibility for the behavior. "Mistakes were made, but not by me" is a fascinating exploration of the cognitive science behind rationalization. Seminal research in the psychology of everything from white lies to elaborate deceptions is offered up to the reader in an interesting and an understandable way. Everyone faced with prevaricators and excuse makers needs to listen to this one.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Solymar 01-18-13
    Solymar 01-18-13
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    "I liked this book"

    I liked this book, read it really fast. Excellent narrative, and enjoyed the real life examples that made it really easy to understand and bring the points accross.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rio Missouri 11-18-12
    Rio Missouri 11-18-12 Member Since 2015
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    "I never make MISTEAKS;)"

    This books takes us into our tendency as human beings for self-preservation when faced with the difficult challenge of admitting we were wrong. Our instinct is to deny any errors we made when confronted with the truth, followed by continuing on with the facade by insisting on the truth of our actions or words or by justifying them. The concepts and examples in this book are enlightening in showing us how blinded we are by self-righteous notions that we need to destroy relationships or risk innocent lives to perpetuate our mistakes rather than atone for them.

    The only issue I had with the ideas provided is that in order for one to seek forgiveness and gain absolution, one must first be able to recognize he or she was wrong in the first place. Some instances were easier than other to decide where the fault lies, but others were more difficult. For instance, in the case of the couple in the marriage section, individually they can both be viewed as correct while collectively an observer can find flaws in both sides. This then slightly contradicts the writer in their section of memory and its fallible tendencies. Unless life is recorded 24/7 it is unlikely to be able to recall a situation with clarity and accuracy. Therefore a couple would have to rely on their semi-untrustworthy memory to recall a potential tipping-point event in their relationship. So who is right? He? She? Neither? I believe the author would argue that neither is correct and both parties need to re-evaluate their approach. I would agree to a certain extent, however, unless you truly believe you have committed a wrong-doing, your actions will eventually appear placating and inauthentic and every disagreement will feel like a struggle.

    I guess the bottom line is: don't be an arrogant schmuck, but don't be a doormat either. There is a seam in between that we must navigate through, taking responsibility for all of our actions, putting our big-kid pants on and owning up to the decisions we make and the lives we affect along the way regardless of how humiliating, degrading, or painful it may be to do so because in the end our character will remain intact and our integrity untouched.

    Performance:
    4/5
    Narrator did a great job, there were a few times were her pitch pierced, but not enough to deter from the book.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Richmond Baltimore, MD USA 09-10-12
    D. Richmond Baltimore, MD USA 09-10-12 Member Since 2010

    DJ

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    "Interesting"

    Something to think about. I liked the book. I like books from Hay House.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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