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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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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?

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.

292 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2007

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About the author

Carol Tavris

62 books179 followers
Carol Tavris earned her Ph.D. in the interdisciplinary program in social psychology at the University of Michigan, and ever since has sought to bring research from the many fields of psychology to the public. She is author of The Mismeasure of Woman, which won the Distinguished Media Contribution Award from the American Association from Applied and Preventive Psychology, and the Heritage Publications Award from Division 35 of the APA. Dr. Tavris is also the author of Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion and coauthor with Carole Wade of Invitation to Psychology; Psychology in Perspective; Critical and Creative Thinking: The case of love and war; and The Longest War: Sex Differences in Perspective. She has written on psychological topics for many different magazines, journals, edited books, and newspapers, notably the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. She has given keynote addresses and workshops on, among other topics, critical thinking, pseudoscience in psychology, anger, gender, and psychology and the media. She has taught in the psychology department at UCLA and at the Human Relations Center of the New School for Social Research in New York. Dr. Tavris is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and a charter Fellow of the American Psychological Society; and, for fun, a Fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. When she isn't writing or lecturing, she can be found walking the trails of the Santa Monica mountains with her border collie, Sophie.

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Profile Image for Trevor.
1,301 reviews22.1k followers
June 9, 2009
I found this a remarkably challenging book to read. There was a time when I thought psychology was an odd sort of discipline. As someone who had studied physics for a while I couldn’t really bring myself to call it a science and as someone who studied philosophy I also felt it had failings on that score too. My understanding of psychology was fairly limited, but Freudian, Jungian, Behaviourist and god knows what other –isms all seemed to me to depend too much on a foundation that seemed much too arbitrary. The books I’ve been reading lately on psychology, however, are much less ‘ideological’ and much more scientific.

I’ve read this book in about three days – and that despite also having about four other books on the go at the same time. This one pushed all the others I’ve started to the bottom of the list. Like I said, a lot of this book I found very challenging, but all of it very compelling.

One of the psychological insights that has been messing around with my mind lately is the idea that if you ask someone who is studying to become a doctor why one of their fellow students is also becoming a doctor they are likely to say that it is obvious that that person is virtually made to be a doctor. In fact, they are likely to think that virtually everyone else in their course is there because they are almost constitutionally designed to become a doctor. But if you ask the person themselves why they are becoming a doctor they are likely to say that they are in the course more or less by accident. That there have been a network of lines that intersected and by a series of coincidences they have ended up here. And this is not just true of people’s understanding of those around them when it comes to career choices – but virtually everything else they do too. The tendency is for us to greatly over-rate what others do as being a manifestation of their ‘essential nature’ and what we do as being an unpredictable consequence of arbitrary and random forces.

But this has consequences that go far beyond a mere curiosity related to people’s chosen career paths. When we find that a friend has engaged in what we might consider to be an ‘act of betrayal’ against us this same tendency kicks in again and we are likely to see this betrayal not as a momentary lapse on our friends part caused by them being carried away by circumstance, but as an indication of what is their essential nature. Our acts of betrayal against our friends, on the other hand, we tend to see as either momentary lapses or justified retaliation given their infinitely worse behaviour.

This book looks at the consequences that our tendencies to under-rate our own culpability for mistakes and misdemeanours has and to over-rate the intention and severity of the actions of others when committed against us. The ‘us’ here is not just ourselves personally, but also the ‘us’ as a group or as a society as a whole. Some of the examples given in this book range from case studies of marriages falling apart (something that had cringe-making moments for me as I saw some of the very much less attractive parts of my own personality displayed before me in vivid Technicolor in relation to both my current relationship and my marriage breakdown) all the way up to the long standing problems existing between Iran and the United States.

The book also looks at how people who were involved in what should really be referred to as the ‘recovered memory scandal’ have dealt with their role in this. The most generous answer is ‘not very well’. But this isn’t a book about pointing the finger and complaining about how pathetic some people are, you know, the sorts of people who make mistakes. Rather, it is a book that tries to show that we humans are all too prone to self-justification and this is a terrible danger particularly when we do things that are by any definition not things that we can be proud of. The book points out that despite our often simple-minded ideas that some people are just basically bad and that they do things just to be evil, in fact, most people who ‘do evil’ imagine they are doing good. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions and kept shining after being buffed clean by our rationalisations.

If you look up a dictionary definition of ‘evil politician’ it wouldn’t be too surprising if there was a picture of Hitler. But even if you had the chance to interview Hitler in the bunker just before he popped his pill, it is very unlikely that he would have admitted that he had made many (any) mistakes. It is also unlikely that he would think that anything he had done was either wrong or bad. No, he would have the (to us) remarkable perspective that not only he had done good (and probably not just ‘on balance’) and had acted in the best interests of the future of all humanity, but that one day people would even realise that he was as wonderful as he had always thought himself. I think we (or perhaps just I) find this hard to accept, because we like to believe that deep down the people we consider to be evil know they are bad. If only the world was so simple.

The image that stays with me from the last few years is of Lynndie England and her thumbs-up sign while she was standing beside a pyramid of naked Iraqi men. It is hard not to think that here is an instance of someone with some sort of moral deficiency, someone who clearly gains enjoyment out of the humiliation of others and therefore she must be someone devoid of some basic human quality – and that lacking is what separates her from us. Unfortunately, even that proves not to be the case. The most disturbing bit of research quoted in this book (and there are lots of disturbing bits of research discussed in this book) is that those most likely to become utter monsters are those who have high self-esteem and they are most likely to become monsters towards those who have virtually no power to retaliate. Why? Because we do not want to think of ourselves as bad people, particularly those of us with high self-esteem. But if we start to do horrible things to our enemies then we need to be able to justify those terrible acts – and we tend to do that by saying that they deserved it, that they are less than human, that they do worse to their enemies, that we are acting in a way that is pure and good and (dare we say it) humane, and in fact, that they are the ones (these powerless victims of ours) who are to blame.

The section of this book on police interrogation methods should be made compulsory reading. Years ago I read a book that talked about a psychological experiment that has stayed with me since. People were asked to come to a room in a university to do a memory test involving a series of nonsense syllables. When they got to the room they were told that the experiment was running a little late, so would they mind sitting in a chair for a few minutes. Directly in front of the chair was a poster – one of those graphic posters that show police at a car accident and warning about drink driving or something of the kind. The poster was both graphic and directly in front of the people – so not something they were likely to not notice. When they were finally let into the room to do the test half of them were actually given the syllables to learn for half an hour, the other half of them were asked if they had noticed the poster in the waiting room. These people were then quizzed for half an hour on as many details as they could remember from the poster. What colour was the car, how many policemen were there, was it the man’s right or left leg that had been cut off in the accident? You know the sort of thing. Lots and lots of detail.

Now for the interesting bit. At the end of the half hour both groups of people (the ones who did the syllables and the ones who did the ‘remembering’ of the poster) were shown another copy of the poster and asked if this was the poster they had seen in the waiting room. Virtually everyone who did the memorising of the nonsense syllables said it was – however, virtually no one who had spent half an hour ‘remembering’ the poster said it was. Why? Because those who had spent half an hour ‘remembering’ the poster had decided for sure there were three police officers, and the guy on the road was wearing a green shirt and there was a bicycle in the background and in the poster they were being shown none of those things were there.

When I first heard about this experiment (remember, we are talking about events that have all taken place in a span of slightly more than half an hour) I was shocked at what this experiment implied about our justice system. In short, we are very suggestible creatures and the legal system (particularly the police force) needs to be very careful not to pollute witnesses to crimes in ways that can destroy any hope of justice for the accused – something that should be of foremost concern. However, this book makes my concerns over the justice system seem terribly naïve. I’ve learnt that you also have to add to this mix humans who are convinced they are right, people who refuse to consider any evidence other than that which supports their conclusion after they have reached it, who take it as a professional slight if they are challenged to support or (god forbid) reconsider their favourite theory, people who won’t even change their view of the guilt of the accused after irrefutable evidence is presented to them. The need to rethink our justice system so as to take into consideration the latest findings psychology presents us with becomes all rather urgent.

This is, as I said, a deeply troubling book. Parts of this book felt like a mirror had been held up to me and I have to say that I really didn’t like what I saw. But this is a very important book and one that demands to be read. I recommend it without hesitation.
Profile Image for Mara.
401 reviews282 followers
November 17, 2020
"People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls." - C.G. Jung

"Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin." - Barbara Kingsolver

Neither of the quotes above were included in this book, but they speak to some of the ideas at its core. Anyone who has any social psychology, experimental methods course, and/or paid cursory attention to the bevy of material out there about how the human mind and we, as people, work, will find a lot of familiar concepts in Mistakes Were Made . That is not to say, however, that it's not worth reading.

The overarching principles being examined are those of cognitive dissonance and self-justification . And, before you get all defensive (get it?), these are normal and necessary facets of a human mind-brain (as Krieger might call it).

I was going to go into this elaborate robot “does-not-compute” comparison to illustrate the nature of cognitive dissonance, but then I figured that I'd leave it to Lucille Bluth.

Lucille Bluth Queen of Cognitive Consonance

Basically, the reasoning parts of our brain shut down when confronted with “dissonant” information, and the emotion circuits light up. "These mechanisms provide a neurological basis for the observation that once our minds are made up, it is hard to change them."

As Lucille points out, much of this occurs with respect to our sense of self as well as our need to find explanations for current problems are situations. Confirmation bias and confabulation are just two of the means by which we find evidence for what we're looking for, and causes that aren't there and there are plenty of great research and case studies (some of which is in this book) that illustrate these ideas.

These ubiquitous feats of mental gymnastics give rise to various appalling truths, one of which is best described by research psychologist John Kihlstrom:
“The weakness of the relationship between accuracy and confidence is one of the best-documented phenomena in the 100-year history of eyewitness memory research.”
So, essentially, the least accurate (in this case witnesses) tend to have the most confidence in their accuracy. And the implications of this aren't restricted to the courtroom. I'm not sure I love the choice of case studies of this phenomenon among professionals in this book (the recovered memory movement in therapy, and gross miscarriages of justice in, well, the justice system), as they undermine quotidian examples (we literally do this all day every day). However, the finding that was, to me, most chilling was that in these cases "training does not increase accuracy; it increases people's confidence in their accuracy."

So, in keeping with the spirit of the book, I have to acknowledge my own sequential bias , I've read a lot of other books that covered this material and because it was new to me then, I'm prejudiced to think it was more interesting in those books...so do with that what you will.

Recommended reading:
- Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them
- Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
- How We Decide
- Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior
Profile Image for Morgan Blackledge.
622 reviews2,037 followers
December 11, 2018
OMFG. This book is relentless. Reading it is an ordeal. A wonderful, fruitful ordeal. But an ordeal none the less. Every page and chapter has been an opportunity for self examination and (I hope) enhanced self honesty, insight and personal growth.

And just in case that sounds to woo woo for you. It should be noted that the assertions made in the book are backed by decades worth of hard, experimentally derived evidence.

It doesn't get much better than that.

Both authors are respected researchers in the field of social psychology. A field that is no stranger to dramatic overstatement (to say the least). But also, a field that produces some of the most denuding, insight producing, and frankly, disturbing findings of all the sub fields of psychology.

The central construct explored in the book is Cognitive Dissonance. Leon Festinger's venerable finding that individuals who hold two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or who behave in ways that contradict there values and beliefs will experience excessive mental stress and discomfort. Furthermore, individuals suffering from said mental stress and discomfort will be motivated to reduce the crappy feeling by lying to themselves and others, and even bending and recasting memories of events, in order justify their hypocritical positions and actions.

In case your wondering who those blind, tortured souls are who think and behave in such insane, self delusional and amoral ways. It's you, me and everyone else we know. In other words, everyone.

This thing (Cognitive Dissonance) is in fact a feature (not a flaw) of the human mind/brain. But as is the case with so many human psychological features, it can get us in a FUCK TON of trouble if allowed to operate unchecked.

Imagine (just imagine) living in a 360 degree wrap around lie in which we falsely perceive ourselves as heroic victims to our own needless and profound detriment (let the finger pointing begin). Sounds pretty bad right. That is what's at stake here. But fear not, there is a pathway out of the matrix*.

As I mentioned. Encountering the material in this book is very growth engendering. The book is literally a partial antidote to the poison it describes. But be warned, the antidote burns as it goes down.

The cost that the reader pays for the afore mentioned rewards (enhanced self honesty, growth, insight etc), is the very experience of painful dissonance the book so expertly describes.

The cost incurred to exit the matrix is minor in hindsight. But paying that cost is aversive enough to prevent all of us at one time or another to run and hide from the truth. The cost that I'm referring to, is the naked experience of the pain of realizing that we are in fact human after all.

Ironically, the unwillingness to face and experience these feelings is the active ingredient. And the crazy webs we weave in order to maintain said experiential avoidance is the aforementioned poison.

This is a circuitous way of saying that you can't help but recognize and feel the pain of the human condition when you read this fantastically well executed, educational and therapeutic book.

For an equally eye opening, and decidedly more fun exploration of analogous territory, read Robert Kurzban's Why Everyone (else) Is a Hypocrite.

Someone in my FB feed shared that their therapist recommended that she not read Nietzsche or Camus while she was experiencing a bout of depression (see if you can count the pretentious statements masquerading as self deprecating humor in that statement).

I'd have to include this little gem in that list. You definitely want to be on stable footing when you read this thing. If not, than hide the sharp objects and designate a trusted friend to be at the ready to talk you down when it hits you how hopelessly self delusional all us humans actually is.

That being said. I call this absolutely essential reading. It's as necessary as Khanaman's Thinking Fast and Slow. A dreadfully boring but crucial read for anyone who hasn't had the privilege/curse of studying Cognitive Psychology, or even if you have. Identifying that and how the Human mind/brain is biased (or rather. evolutionarily conditioned) to interpret information and instruct behavior accordingly programmatic ways is as close as we currently have to taking the red pill*.

* Note: The red pill and its opposite, the blue pill, are pop culture symbols (originating in the comic and film The Matrix) representing the choice between embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red pill) and the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue pill).

So go ahead. Read the book, eat the red pill, embrace the painful glare of the light of day, and live a life of more freedom. This is psychology at its most potent best.
Profile Image for Zahra Naderi.
317 reviews56 followers
June 8, 2021
ما می‌خواهیم و آرزو داریم این جمله را با گوش‌های خودمان بشنویم که «خطا کردم. تمام تلاشم را می‌کنم که دوباره این اشتباه را مرتکب نشوم.»

اتفاقات زمان انتخابات که شامل دادن وعده و بعد توجیه خلف‌ وعده‌ها که ویژگی مشترک تمام سیاستمداران دنیاست، انگیزه‌ی اصلی من برای خواندن این کتاب بود‌.

چه می‌شود که خودمان، اشتباهات‌مان و اشتباهات افرادی که به‌شان باور داریم را توجیه می‌کنیم؟
این کتاب کمک‌مان می‌کند از این سازوکار سردربیاوریم.
بررسی عملکرد مغز همیشه برای من جذّاب است.

وقتی چیزی را باور داریم و یا به عبارت بهتر، وقتی به چیزی «عقیده» داریم، هر چیزی که خلاف آن بیابیم که به معنی اشتباه در آن عقیده باشد، باعث ایجاد «ناهماهنگی ذهنی» درون مغزمان می‌شود و مغز ما شروع می‌کند به کاهش ناهماهنگی که مبنای سازوکار توجیه است.
توجیه منحصر به شنیدن چیزی خلاف عقایدمان نمی‌شود؛ برای مثال وقتی قرار است بین دو خانه با مزیت‌های متفاوت یکی را انتخاب کنیم و بخریم، بعد از خریدن یکی از این خانه‌ها، شروع می‌کنیم به توجیه کردن و مثلاً روی خانه‌ای که نخریدیم عیب می‌گذاریم و یا مدام از خانه‌ای که خریده‌ایم تعریف می‌کنیم.
مغز ما دارای نقاط کوری‌ست؛ خاطرات را در جهت کاهش ناهماهنگی ذهنی تحریف می‌کند. برای همین هم هست ما اغلب خاطرات جوری تعریف می‌کنیم که اگر اشتباه از ماست مقصر شناخته نشویم و یا اگر قربانی هستیم، مظلوم‌تر از چیزی که واقعاً هستیم به نظر برسیم.
یکی دیگر از باگ‌های ذهنی‌مان باورهایی هست که به خودمان داریم؛ هرچه قدر مغرورتر باشیم و خودمان را آدم‌های بهتری بدانیم، چنان‌چه مرتکب اشتباهی شویم٬ آن را توجیه می‌کنیم.

نویسنده در این کتاب به بررسی مشکلات و فجایعی که توجیه و نپذیرفتن اشتباه ایجاد می‌کند، می‌پردازد. اشتباهات روانشناسان، پزشکان، پلیس و سیستم قضایی کشور، دولت‌ها و رهبران. سپس می‌رود سراغ خودمان در زندگی‌هایمان و عشق‌هایی که به خاطر توجیه به نفرت می‌گرایند و نویسنده مهم‌ترین دلیل طلاق‌ را همین توجیه می‌داند.

توجیه‌کردن کمک‌مان می‌کند راحت با زندگی کنار بیایم اما عادت‌شدن‌ش زندگی را نابود می‌کند.
در نهایت کتاب یادمان می‌دهد چگونه می‌توانیم توجیهات خودمان و اطرافیان‌مان را کاهش دهیم و نقاط کور ذهن‌مان را بشناسیم.

«در تحلیل نهایی، محک شخصیت یک ملت یا شرافت فرد، به لغزش‌ناپذیری‌اش ربطی ندارد بلکه بسته به این است که ما پس از خطا کردن چه می‌کنیم.»

× باید بسیار خواند و توصیه‌ش کرد و عمل‌ کرد به‌ش.
19 reviews3 followers
March 5, 2012
Ultimately, I think that Tavris's conclusions about self-justification are probably correct, but her argument was flawed. There were a number of things that put me off from this book. Here's my list of gripes:

1) The book relied much too heavily on anecdotal evidence to prove its points. Tavris did back up her claims about self-justification with some psychological research (that sounded like it was peer-reviewed, I guess), but it was pretty sparse (like 1 study per chapter if that---as opposed to anecdote after anecdote after anecdote). Plus, she never really discussed the full context of the studies she cited, nor did she ever give any qualifications for the research or her own conclusions.

2) The overly sanctimonious, self-righteous tone of the book was a total turn-off. For the most part, I felt that it really condemned the people in the examples of self-justification that Tavris wrote about. Even though she had a good point, I feel that most of the situations are more complex than she made them out to be.

3) She used a lot of logical fallacies. Her pet metaphor of the "pyramid" is just another version of the slippery slope fallacy. And she heavily relied on either-or logic to support her claims.

4) Throughout the whole book she speaks about self-justification as though it were a fundamental flaw in human psychology. I think that is far from the truth. My contention is that evolution created the human brain the way it is for a reason. If it didn't serve a purpose, self-justification would have been discarded long, long ago because it would have caused humans to make disastrously bad decisions. But the truth is, self-justification and other illusions we create about ourselves and our world are extremely important to our ability to function in the world. I don't have time to go through all of the useful purposes that these cognitive processes serve, but here's a few: seeing ourselves as good people allows us to achieve more than people who are depressed and who have a more realistic perception of themselves---and applying patterns from old situations to new ones helps us to adapt to novelty and change more effectively. In short, a more nuanced acknowledgement of the complexity of the human brain would have been better---and more informative.

I'd read Invisible Gorilla instead. It says the same basic thing at this book, but in a much more compelling and informative way.
Profile Image for sAmAnE.
588 reviews87 followers
March 24, 2021
کتاب با نقل قولی از جورج اورول آغاز می‌شود:
«همه‌مان خوب بلدیم چیزهایی را باور کنیم که می‌دانیم درست نیستند، و بعد که معلوم شد اشتباه می‌کردیم، بدون اینکه شرم کنیم یا خودمان را از تک‌وتا بیندازیم، حقایق را می‌پیچانیم و سفسطه می‌کنیم تا نشان دهیم که حق با ما بوده. از لحاظ نظری، می‌توان این فرایند را تا مدت زمانی نامعلوم تکرار کرد و ادامه داد: «تنها اشکالش این است که باور غلط دیر یا زود، آن هم معمولا در میدان نبرد، به دیوار مستحکم واقعیت می‌خورد».
این نقل قول از اورول می‌تونه شمایی کلی از محتوای کتاب را داشته باشه. نویسنده در هشت فصل به این میپردازد که چرا و چگونه اشتباهاتمان را توجیه می‌کنیم؟ چه در دنیای سیاست، چه در مسائل عاطفی و خانوادگی، آنچه که زخم‌ها و جراحت‌ها و جنگ‌ها می‌گذرد و ... قرار است ما از اشتباهاتمان درس بگیریم چون از کودکی به ما آموخته‌اند اما در صورتیکه بدانیم کجا را اشتباه کرده‌ایم و بپذیریم. یکم کتاب برام کند پیش می‌رفت ولی در کل کتاب خوبی بود. مثال‌ها و شواهدو جوامع آماری خوبی هم داشت.
Profile Image for HAMiD.
443 reviews
September 5, 2018
خانم ها، آقایان! لطفن این کتاب باشرافت را حتمن بخوانید

درباره ی این کتاب بسیار می شه نوشت و موشکافی کرد(هرچند که خودش به موشکافی ی امری بسیار مهم پرداخته) اینه که با نقل قولهایی یا نوشتن برش هایی نمی شود حقِ مطلب را گفت و جان کلام را بیانش کرد. فقط بگویم که این کتاب به شکلی بسیار عجیب آدمی رو با خودش رو در رو می کنه و دریچه ی بسیار شگفت انگیزی در ذهن باز می کنه که می تونه اساسِ فکر و رفتار و کردار رو تغییر بده. دست رو یک امر بدیهی گذاشته که دستِ کم این کمترین هماره ازش غفلت کردم و بعد اگر گسترشش بدیم می بینیم که برخی مشکل های بسیار پیچیده و عجیب از کجا و چرا ظهور می کنن و چرا

یکی از خوبی هاش(که بسیاره خوبی هاش) کاربردی بودنشم هست. هم مشکل رو بیان می کنه و هم راهکاررو بیان می کنه. باری بسیار ارزشمنده خوندنش و وقت گذاشتن براش. از بهترین هاست

Profile Image for Tami.
Author 37 books71 followers
April 15, 2008
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?
Profile Image for Parastoo.
90 reviews418 followers
August 1, 2022
عالی و بسیار خواندنی. نویسندگان با آوردن نمونه‌ها و ارجاع به پژوهش‌های روانشناسی اجتماعی نشان می‌دهند که چرا پذیرفتن اشتباه‌هایمان این‌قدر سخت است و چرا و چگونه به توجیه خودمان می‌پردازیم. همین‌طور تمایل ما به از بین بردن ناهماهنگی‌های ذهنی چطور موجب بی‌آبرویی می‌شود.
فقط خیلی ناراحتم که چرا صورت اصلی اسامی در پانویس نیامده. به‌شخصه دوست داشتم تعدادی از پژوهشگران را در اینترنت پیدا کنم و کارهایشان را بخوانم و چون دیکته اصلی را نمی‌دانم کارم سخت شده. یک نمرهٔ منفی برای ناشر.
Profile Image for Clumsy Storyteller .
350 reviews726 followers
Shelved as 'on-hold'
February 6, 2017
This was really a GREAT book, but a lot has changed since i picked it up *but i promise that i'll get back to you and read THE WHOLE book this time not just few pages. it's not you sweetie it's me....sometimes i talk to books like they're real people, not creepy at all*! i got really distracted by shiny new books that were delivered to my house and i just couldn't focus on this one.

Profile Image for Mana Ravanbod.
342 reviews185 followers
December 23, 2016
كاش اين كتاب را با سوگند قانون اساسي به رييس جمهور و با اعتبارنامه به نمايندگان مجلس تحويل بدهند. حتي با استخدام به تمام اساتيد دانشگاه بدهند، با هر جواز كسب به كاسبان بدهند، و به تمام ستارگان سينما و مجريان تلويزيون و هر اهل سياست و حرفي بدهند. اشتباه كردن انقدر مهم نيست كه انكار اشتباه يا توجيه ان يا كتمان ان يا تكرار ان يا در خفا استمرار آن. اين يك ريويو نيست، فقط آرزوست، آرزويي بزرگ
Profile Image for Ryan.
184 reviews26 followers
June 27, 2008
This is yet another wonderful book written by social psychologists, although it is probably unlikely to make the New York Times best seller list for a couple of reasons. First, this book ranks right up there with Jimmy Carter’s famed “Great Malaise” speech that pointed an accusing finger at the American people for all of their problems. No one wants to know that WE are the cause of the problem, just like no one really wants to know that I made a mistake, not someone else. This book is about cognitive dissonance and the power of rationalization in many domains of life. The problem with this topic (as I have found after many quarters of teaching it to college students), is that even after learning the concept, literally no one likes to think that they actually engage in these mental gymnastics. Biases in perception, even the automatic activation of stereotypes are easier to get people to believe than trying to show them how every decision or experience we have is colored by the process of making ourselves appear consistent. In reality, we are all highly hypocritical in countless ways, but as the authors show over and over again, this is much easier to detect in others than in ourselves. Only suggestion I would make is to try to use more examples from across the political spectrum to arrest any rationalization ammo for critics of the book. Would recommend to everyone (along with Aronson’s other books).
Profile Image for Mohy_p.
274 reviews120 followers
April 16, 2020
خیلی کتاب برای من جذاب بود
مخصوصا اینکه همراه می شد با مثال های جالب و واقعی

کتاب درباره هر گفته‌اش ی مثال واقعی بلافاصله میاره که واقعا جذابند و خب تا حد زیادی درک متن رو اسون تر میکنه همین بنظرم باعث میشه در حالیکه ناداستانه ولی اصلا اصلا روند خوندنش کند نیست.

حرف اصلی کتاب اینه که وقتی اطلاعات جدیدی وارد ذهنمون میشه [درباره خودمون یا افراد یا چیزهایی که روشون تعصب هایی داریم] و این اطلاعات با باورهای ذهنیمون همخوان نیست ناخوداگاه این ناهماهنگی ذهنی رو با استفاده از توجیه کردن برطرف می کنیم .

خلاصه ای از کتاب دقیقا همین متن میشه :
ما معمولا توجیه کردن رو زیاد مهم نمی بینیم تا وقتی که بدونیم "توجیه کردن ساز و کاری است که پایه رفتار
دارو و دسته های زور‌گویانی می شود که برای بچه های کوچکتر قلدری می کنند ،
کارفرمایانی که به کارمندانشان اجحاف می کنند ،
عشاقی که همدیگر رو اذیت می کنند،
پلیس هایی که مظنون را حتی پس از تسلیم شدن کتک می زنند،
دیکتاتورهایی که اقلیت های قومی را در زندان شکنجه می کنند ،
سربازانی که به غیر نظامیان آزار می رسانند ،
و قضیه جدی تر می شود."

چند نکته که خیلی خیلی حیفه نخونین البته چون ریویو طولانی شد بازم احتمال داره نخونین اما مینویسم شاید که بخونین 😃:

▪توی بخشی از کتاب میگه که هرچی ما برای یک چیز بیشتر خرج کنیم و عواقبش هم بر گشت ناپذیر تر باشه تاکید بیش از حد بر جنبه های مثبت تصمیم گیریمون بیشتر میشه
مثلا میگه هیچ وقت برای جراحی پلاستیک با افرادی که قبلا اون و انجام دادن مشورت نکنین چون شما رو تشویق می کنند که حتما انجام بدین
میگه به جاش مثلا با کسی مشورت کنین که مثل شما در حال جمع آوری اطلاعات در اون باره است

▪توی کتاب می خونیم که "تخلیه خشم" می تونه تاثیر عکس داشته باشه
حالا چرا ؟
چون وقتی خشممون رو سر کسی دیگه خالی می کنیم نیازه که کارمون رو توجیه کنیم
مثلا میگیم حقش بود اصلا + کلی ویژگی های بده دیگه
و این باعث میشه دفعه بعد که فرد و ببینیم حس بدتری نسبت بهش داشته باشیم در نتیجه خیلی بدتر رفتار کنیم
در ادامش یک آزمایش انجام شده رو میگه که جالبه و نتیجه گیرینویسنده ها رو هم تایید میکنه
😅پس بنا بر نظریه ناهماهنگی ذهن هم لذتی که در بخشش هست در انتقام نیست

شاید بعد خوندن این کتاب وقتی که اشتباه می کنیم و دنبال مقصریم برای یک بار هم شده یکی از تیترهای کتاب جوابمون باشه
"کی بود کی بود؟ من بودم "
Profile Image for David.
274 reviews11 followers
May 25, 2010
As someone interested in the psychology of religion, it's always interesting to me how cognitive weaknesses play a role in establishing and maintaining religious beliefs. Some atheists are wont to believe that religion is a kind of mental illness, but this book (and others) make it clear that's really not so. The vast majority of religious people are cognitively normal. It's just that normal human cognition is very prone to making certain kinds of errors, and religious memes propagate very easily on this substrate. As an example, for a religious person to admit that there are no gods, they have to confront the enormous cognitive dissonance that they think of themselves as smart, well-educated, pragmatic - but have, for many years, been putting vast amounts of effort, emotion, thought, and perhaps money into something that hasn't the slightest basis in reality. For someone who was devoutly religious, this is the granddaddy of all cognitive dissonance. That so many people manage to confront this and deal with it is quite impressive.

One of the things I like about this book is that for every section on various instantiations of cognitive dissonance and self-justification, they close by talking about someone who has overcome this natural propensity, and done right. The therapist who confronts the fact that she helped people "recover" false memories of abuse, and meets with the affected families to try to set things right. The prosecutor who accepts that he had an innocent man incarcerated for years, and comes back to the case. One of the best examples in my opinion is Edzard Ernst, who is not in this book, as they don't discuss "alternative" medicine. He confronted the fact that he had been giving people useless medical treatments for years, as a homeopathic doctor, and has since become a crusader for science-based medicine.

One of the most disappointing realizations for me, as an educator, is that clear explanation with ample evidence generally will not change people's minds. Many people who think they've been abducted by aliens are well aware of the phenomenon of sleep paralysis, but - for no justifiable reason - reject it as an explanation of their experiences. I've spoken with a climate change denialist who swore up and down that they understood the greenhouse effect just fine - and then immediately turned around and said something clearly contradicting this theory.

Education isn't entirely futile, though. First, if we can educate people before they've formed their opinions on the subject, that will have a dramatic difference. Second, a large-scale, concerted education effort can change some minds. This can lead to changes of the intellectual environment that can persuade others via non-rational means. Smokers in the 1940s didn't understand the link between smoking and lung cancer. Almost every smoker today does understand this link (although they smoke anyway, exercising ample self-justification). But we've managed to convince enough people that the society in the US has changed, and smoking is much less accepted (and as a result much less common).

Science was developed to counteract all the problems mentioned in this book. Nobody likes to be wrong, and scientists are no exception, but they are professionally forced to be. To be sure, being too wrong can cost them prestige, money, or jobs, but they're expected to be wrong fairly frequently. And the whole endeavor of science is set up to make it clear when someone is wrong. Scientists aren't allowed to conduct their arguments in a vague or metaphorical manner, and must be vulnerable to proof that they are wrong (mathematical or empirical). And while individual scientists can be recalcitrant, the discipline as a whole is self-correcting, and moves on. The world would be a vastly better place if everyone aspired to the scientific ideal.
Profile Image for Ross Blocher.
432 reviews1,387 followers
June 30, 2012
This is my favorite book, period! Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson demonstrate how cognitive dissonance accounts for our inability to see our faults, from our personal lives all the way to the highest levels of government. This will change the way you view your own thoughts and actions, and make you a better person as a result.
Profile Image for Jagadish.
10 reviews68 followers
December 1, 2018
In this book we see the the trail of self-justification through the territories of family, memory, therapy, law, prejudice, conflict, and war.
How we do self justification before the decision and after the decision is taken
Example : U.S - Iraq war
It show how self justification work in Iraq war.It started with Iraq had pile of weapon of mass destruction but at the end of event there was no such thing still we try to justified the event with other matter such as stability in Middle East democracy and terrorism etc .
People even see lack of evidence as an evidence .
Consequence of self-justification: how it exacerbates prejudice and corruption, distorts memory, turns professional confidence into arrogance, creates and perpetuates injustice, warps love, and generates feuds and rifts.
How cognitive dissonance works?
cognitive dissonance, the hardwired psychological mechanism that creates self-justification and protects our certainties, self-esteem, and affiliations.
Then book talk about of Bias of memory .
How Memory is reconstructive and subjective to source of confusion.
Parent blaming is popular and convenient form of self justification .
Memories create our stories, but our stories also create our memories. Once we have a narrative, we shape our memories to fit into it and assemble as mosaic form .
Imagination inflammation
The moral of the book is easy to say, and difficult to execute. When you screw up, try saying this: "I made a mistake. I need to understand what went wrong. I don't want to make the same mistake again.
An appreciation of how dissonance works, in ourselves and others, gives us some ways to override our wiring. And protect us from those who can't.
Profile Image for Nafise Beheshti.
116 reviews2 followers
December 24, 2022
کلیت کتاب در مورد ناهماهنگی ذهنی هست، میشه توی یه مثال توضیح داد که این ناهماهنگی ذهنی چیه: اگه سیگاری باشین و بدونین سیگار برای بدن ضرر داره، این مطلب ناهماهنگی توی ذهنتون ایجاد می‌کنه، پس خودتون رو قانع می‌کنین که اونقدرها هم بد نیست، عوضش کافئین داره و... . و حالا این ناهمانگی ذهنی تا کجاها که پیش نمیره :)
حرف دیگه کتاب اینه که باور کنیم یه جاهایی می‌تونیم اشتباه کنیم، حتی ممکنه اصلا متوجه نشیم. به هر قضیه‌ای صد در صد اطمینان نداشته باشیم.
به طور کلی برای من کتاب کسل کننده‌ای بود. مثال‌ها زیاد و توضیحات حوصله سر بر بود.
اصل مطلب همون اول گفته شد. توقع داشتم هرچی جلوتر میرم مثال کم، و راهکار بیشتر بشه، ولی نشد.
از اونطرف هم اونقدر مثال‌هاش کاربردی بود که جذابش کنه. مثلا یه درس خیلی مهمی که گرفتم، اینه که اگه اشتباهی در حق بچه‌هام انجام دادم (عصبانی شدن، دعوا کردن و...) ازشون عذرخواهی کنم. باورش سخته، ولی پسر ۴ساله‌م متوجه عذرخواهی‌م شد و بغلم کرد :)
Profile Image for Overbooked  ✎.
1,534 reviews
August 12, 2016
Extremely interesting social psychology book on the reasons why do people do the things they do.
The author presents compelling arguments (supported by the evidence of many studies and experiments) for some puzzling human behaviours, such as why people insist on justifying indefensible positions long after they are proven wrong. She explains, among other things, the power of gifts (even low value) in swaying decision making, the reasoning behind stereotypes and strongly denied biases (and why no one is immune of such behaviour), the fallacy of memory (distorted or confabulated memories leading to the extremes of believing themselves victims of sexual abuse or alien abduction).

Other areas for which dissonance and obstinate self-justification are problematic include law enforcement (that could results in false confessions and wrong criminal prosecution), relationships (leading to nasty quarrels and divorce) and conflicts (to extremes of torture and war crimes).
Highly recommended. 4 stars rounded up because I just loved the last chapter on the attitudes to learning and the importance of encouraging children to accept their mistakes.

As per usual, a selection of my favourite quotes (and there are many, many more):

Between the conscious lie to fool others and unconscious self-justification to fool ourselves lies a fascinating gray area, patrolled by that unreliable, self-serving historian—memory. Memories are often pruned and shaped by an ego-enhancing bias that blurs the edges of past events, softens culpability, and distorts what really happened.

Prejudices emerge from the disposition of the human mind to perceive and process information in categories. "Categories" is a nicer, more neutral word than "stereotypes," but it's the same thing.

The brain is designed with blind spots, optical and psychological, and one of its cleverest tricks is to confer on us the comforting delusion that we, personally, do not have any. In a sense, dissonance theory is a theory of blind spots—of how and why people unintentionally blind themselves so that they fail to notice vital events and information that might make them question their behavior or their convictions.

Just as we can identify hypocrisy in everyone but ourselves, just as it's obvious that others can be influenced by money but not ourselves, so we can see prejudices in everyone else but ourselves. Thanks to our ego-preserving blind spots, we cannot possibly have a prejudice, which is an irrational or mean-spirited feeling about all members of another group. Because we are not irrational or mean spirited, any negative feelings we have about another group are justified; our dislikes are rational and well founded. It's theirs we need to suppress.

Understanding how the mind yearns for consonance, and rejects information that questions our beliefs, decisions, or preferences, teaches us to be open to the possibility of error. It also helps us let go of the need to be right. … When confidence and convictions are unleavened by humility, by an acceptance of fallibility, people can easily cross the line from healthy self-assurance to arrogance.

At all ages, people can learn to see mistakes not as terrible personal failings to be denied or justified, but as inevitable aspects of life that help us grow, and grow up.
Profile Image for Amirsaman.
428 reviews224 followers
December 20, 2017
۱- در فصل اول، کتاب از ناهماهنگی ذهن می‌گوید. وقتی که مدت‌ها کاری را انجام داده‌ایم و حالا می‌خواهیم تصمیم‌مان را توجیه کنیم. نویسندگان مثال‌های متعددی از سیاست‌مداران آمریکایی می‌آورند. موقع توجیه‌کردن، خودمان هم توجیه‌مان را باور می‌کنیم، و این فرق دارد با دروغ.
«گزینش و‌ ورود دشوار میزان علاقه‌ی شخص را به گروه بیشتر می‌کند.»
۲- بعد از نقش تعصبی که کمابیش در همه‌ی انسان‌ها وجود دارد می‌گویند.
۳- در فصل سوم می‌گویند حافظه در خدمت توجیه قرار می‌گیرد؛ بقول نامجو، حافظه خود کلانتر جان است!
این‌که هربار که چیزی را به‌خاطر می‌آوریم، نه اصل موضوع، که بازسازی‌ای تازه از آن را به‌یاد می‌آوریم، حرف فیلمی است که اخیرا دیده‌ام: Pastoral: To Die in the Country
۴- در فصل چهارم از تلقین‌پذیری حافظه طی جلسات روان‌درمانی می‌گوید؛ این‌که شیوه‌ی یادآوری خاطرات گم‌شده که در فروید ریشه دارد، چطور به بیماران باوراند که حقیقتا در گذشته مورد تجاوز قرار گرفته‌اند، اما آن را واپس زده‌اند.
۵- کتاب در فصل بعد از بی‌گناهانی می‌گوید که به‌خاطر تعصب بازجوها به خطاناپذیری‌شان، اعتراف دروغین کرده‌��ند و محکوم شده‌اند.
۶- فصل ششم مرا یاد تئاتر برلینِ محمد یعقوبی انداخت. دعوای یک زوج از هر دو زاویه‌دید را می‌گوید، بعد علت بنیادی اختلاف را می‌یابد، و سپس راهکار می‌دهد‌.
۷- «هر چه فرد خاطی مغرور تر بود، بیشتر قربانی را تحقیر میکرد.»
۸- فصل آخر مرا یاد آن شخصیت کتاب «ممّد مردی که مُرد» انداخت. ۳۰ میلیون خرج نامزدش کرده بود، و بعد زن نیامده بود در خانه‌اش. ۴۰ میلیون دیگر به پدر دختر داد تا آن ۳۰ میلیون را جبران کند. به عبارتی آدم وقتی اشتباهی را مرتکب می‌شود، برای این‌که اثبات کند ابله نیست، بیشتر در آن فرو می‌رود. نویسندگان پیشنهاد می‌دهند که بهترین راه این است که حساب هوش و بلاهت را از اشتباه جدا کنیم و بپذیریم هرکسی ممکن است خطا کند.

در کل، مایلم ایده‌ی کتاب را به منتقدان سینما مربوط کنم! گاهی بعضی از آنان چارچوب محدودی برای فیلم‌ها تعریف می‌کنند و این باعث می‌شود وقتی فیلمی خارج از این قاب ساخته می‌شود، آن‌ها از هر توجیهی برای بی‌ارزش شمردن فیلم استفاده کنند و مدارک واقعی و دنیای نو را نبینند.

کتاب البته کمی پرگویی کرده و به تکرار مثال‌های عامیانه رسیده، و شاید حرف‌های چندان جدیدی نمی‌زند. با این‌حال خواندش تلنگری است به آدم که بیشتر مراقبت تعصب‌ها و توجیه‌های خویش باشد. خواندن همه‌ی چهارصد صفحه را ضروری نمی‌دانم، خواندن فصل اول هم خوب و کافی است!
913 reviews409 followers
December 22, 2011
Four words:

Cognitive dissonance
Confirmation bias

According to the authors, therein lies the explanation for people's unwillingness to admit mistakes, even to themselves, in a variety of realms. This far-reaching book tackles irrational prejudices, false memories, misjudgement as a psychotherapist, prosecuting the wrong individual, blaming one's spouse for marital problems, etc. And it offers a basic explanation: we have a difficult time integrating two conflicting beliefs, such as "I'm a great person" and "I messed up" (cognitive dissonance). We will therefore respond by coming up with all kinds of creative ways to challenge the less desirable belief (usually "I messed up") in favor of clinging to the more desirable belief ("I'm a great person"). In an effort to convince ourselves that the more desirable belief is the correct one, we will selectively focus on evidence supporting the more desirable belief and deny, ignore, or minimize evidence supporting the less desirable belief (confirmation bias).

The authors' examples are fascinating and it's a great topic. Their explanations are arguably a little facile. Can we really know what's going on inside someone's head? Are all self-justifications a matter of cognitive dissonance? Are people ever correct for clinging to a belief or course of action even in the face of conflicting evidence? The fact that the points feel belabored at times suggests that the thesis may be too simple and one-dimensional to explain all the various anecdotes.

Criticism notwithstanding, this is a great topic. We could all do with a little more self-reflection when it comes to stubbornly clinging to beliefs or actions that may be detrimental. And although the actual explanations for this phenomenon are probably more complex and varied, the authors offer a good start at facing this problem and attempting to understand and hopefully challenge people's unwillingness to admit mistakes.
Profile Image for مُهنا.
175 reviews27 followers
January 8, 2021
A really great book that has shown me many misconceptions that I had about human nature and mistakes that I do but thought did not consider them to be mine. I especially enjoyed the last chapter of the book were the author talked about the importance of mistakes in learning, something I personally believe to be missing from many cultures and most definitely missing in mine.
56 reviews1 follower
September 2, 2017
Cognitive dissonance and self-justification is an interesting topic; however, this book is too redundant and imprecise for it to be of great interest to me. It also failed to give meaningful advice for diffusing tension or repairing communications with someone who is sliding "down the pyramid" into their entrenched self-justified beliefs.

To illustrative these concepts, the authors give an abundance of examples to attempt to justify their arguments, but the examples are all basically identical: The person does bad thing; they think "I'm a good person, I couldn't have done a bad thing"; they rationalize their bad thing as being either good, not that bad, or unavoidable; when confronted with challenging evidence, they double down.

It's interesting to see examples from different domains of society, but I don't need 10 examples about doctors followed by 10 examples from the criminal justice system followed by 10 examples about married couples. As I said, all of these examples are abstractly identical. It came across as a lot of filler. Alternatively, it's an attempt to convince the reader of their ideas by simple repetition.

I think social sciences are critical, but social science is often methodologically weak and overly speculative in its interpretation of results. I don't want to fault the authors too hard for their cursory presentation of "evidence" and descriptions of studies, but it was frustrating for me. They give just enough details that, if you're well versed in probability or logic, you can see a million ways that the study they just mentioned could easily be flawed into being meaningless or not generalizable. Or that their interpretation of the study must rest on details that they did not share, because what they shared does not support their interpretation.

Like Fox Moulder from the X-Files, "I want to believe". I'm frustrated that they did not provide me with tight enough evidence that I would feel confident repeating it in conversation with my peers.

I finished the book because I was hoping for advice on circumventing or fixing the effects of cognitive dissonance and self-justification when working with other people. Such advice was scant. Only the example of Apartheid was meaningful as a way to approach cognitive dissonance in others; it was about three paragraphs long. There are some tips for the reader on ways they can try to manage cognitive dissonance in themselves, but such tips are also few in number.

This is a pop science book. It's interesting but ultimately disappointing for anyone wanting some depth.
Profile Image for Annie.
870 reviews837 followers
September 4, 2017
The title of the book gives the impression that it's a self-help book. It's more of a psychology book explaining how people can make mistakes, think they are right, and honestly believe that. A good example is false memories. How often have you said, "I could have sworn I did that." You see the event in your head, yet evidence shows it didn't happen. You rationalize it ("someone must have moved it") instead of accepting the most obvious answer ("I was mistaken in thinking that I did it").

The book goes even further into big mistakes that people make and refuse to admit, such as in the criminal system where suspects are locked away for years ("I know he's the rapist so I'll interrogate him for hours until he finally confesses") until DNA finally proves their innocence. Fortunately for most people, they are not making mistakes that mean life or death. The book contains many extreme examples. Still, this is a great book to read to understand and recognize your own mistakes. For example, maybe a friend asked for a favor and you said no. Initially, you felt a little guilty for saying no. Then you start justifying the answer, "She wouldn't have helped me if I had asked for a favor. She's always looking for someone to do her work." So that your guilty feeling goes away. It's a rude awakening to realize how your feelings have completely changed -- from feeling guilty to thinking your friend is selfish and lazy.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,599 reviews8,729 followers
January 6, 2012
A bit uneven and towards the end a bit too Oprah-centric. Felt like the book drifted from a scientific/psychological work to a clinical/self-help piece (a rational, scientifically grounded self-help book, but still one regardless). It was interesting, but sadly disappointing too.
Profile Image for Tucker.
Author 28 books192 followers
December 25, 2011
The authors describe a "dissonance theory" of self-justification. We don't like thinking of ourselves as ignorant or ill-intentioned, so to avoid this dissonance, we try to convince ourselves and others that we are doing the right thing. We may justify to protect our high self-esteem or even our low self-esteem, if that is our default state that we are reluctant to leave.

Justification of incorrect beliefs or forbidden actions is easy when it is done incrementally, what we often call a "slippery slope". (The famous Milgram experiment in which college students were willing to electrocute other research subjects was an example of such incremental self-justification, because if the student can justify 50 volts than he can eventually justify 450 volts.) Depending on which way we first lean from the top of the pyramid, we can land at different sides of the pyramid, because once we start on a course of action we tend to continue justifying our actions in the same direction. As we self-justify and confabulate, we may develop false memories of things like having been abducted by aliens, molested as a child, imprisoned in a concentration camp or kept in an orphanage. We may unfairly persecute or wrongfully convict others.

Children under five have trouble differentiating between things they have heard and things they have actually experienced; in adulthood, we tend to forget details as years go by, so we wind up with a related problem of being unable to distinguish reality from our fantasized or chosen narratives. This is most apparent when comparing relationship narratives between happy couples and divorcing couples.

Under other circumstances, in a compressed time frame of interrogation, but according to a similar mental process, some people confess to crimes they did not commit.

Introspection, rather than fixing the problem, unfortunately often triggers even more self-justification. We all have blind spots, prejudices, and a tendency to prefer "us" over "them," but it's difficult for us to see our own limitations. Assuming we are reasonable by nature, we sometimes forgo the scientific method or engage in a biased version of it and assume that our thoughts must be reasonable because we, not someone else, thought them. We say "that's the way I am" to excuse our own behavior and we say "that's the way they are" to condemn others' behavior.
Profile Image for سید اکبر.
25 reviews40 followers
September 4, 2018
کی بود کی بود دربارهٔ خودفریبی است. تلاش ذهن برای دفاع از شریف بودن خویشتن و توجیه هر رفتار نادرست را نشان می‌دهد. این توجیهات نه تنها در زبان و برای فریب دیگران، بلکه در ذهن و برای نگهداشت شرافت خویش است. دربارهٔ تغییر حافظه به نفع خویشتن و تلاش ذهن برای یافتن مقصر دیگر می‌گوید. در فصل‌های مختلف از اشتباهات سیاستمداران، بازجوها، قاضیان، پزشکان و ... توجیهات آنها می‌گوید.
گاهی این توجیهات با مغالطه‌های منطقی یک راه را می‌روند و حتی می‌توان نگاهی منطقی به این کتاب داشت.
کتاب طولانی است و به نظرم می‌شد در حجم کمتری آن را نوشت اما خواندنی است.
Profile Image for Asim Bakhshi.
Author 9 books267 followers
August 6, 2020
In the beginning, you think it's a fresh application of Festinger's theory; then you think it's about human species in general; then you think, aah, it's about politics too; about history, about ideas as well; finally, you realize it's primarily about you, the reader. A very interesting take on an idea which is now half a century old.
Profile Image for Adam.
41 reviews
December 13, 2017
This was by far the best book I have read in quite a few years. Highly recommended. It was so informative and engaging that I think I wore out my welcome reading it out loud to anyone who was nearby.

Written by two social psychologists and based on years of research, it provides a fascinating overview of cognitive dissonance, and how it applies to prejudice, memory, law, marriage, and war. The most chilling aspect of the book is that it points out how we all are subject to dealing with dissonance (usually in self-justifying ways), what we think we know or remember is probably not the case, regardless of which side we're on, and most of our leaders and public figures shirk responsibility for mistakes.

Some highlights:
- Reasoning areas of the brain "virtually shut down" when we are confronted with dissonant information, and emotion circuits light up when consonance is restored. Basically, this shows that there is a neurological basis for the fact that once we make up our minds, it is pretty hard to change them.
- "Naïve realism" - the "inescapable conviction" that we all have, that we see things as they really are. If someone has a different opinion they obviously aren't seeing things clearly.
- Being "absolutely, positively sure" a memory is correct doesn't mean it is. We can even have vivid false memories full of emotion and detail. For example, people can recover memories of abuse, which is shown to be dubious (notably the authors mention how Martha Nibley Beck, Hugh Nibley's daughter, created memories of abuse by her father that she was convinced of). Some people even experience alien abduction without it actually happening. Basically, we can have experiences that we think are real, especially in the past, yet they never happened. Without some outside confirming source, we cannot trust our memories too much.
- "Parent blaming" - a convenient form of self-justification; it allows people to live with regrets or mistakes because all the mistakes were made "by them."
- Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have been guilty of self-justification and failure to admit their mistakes. In fact, the last president to clearly admit to a major mistake was John F. Kennedy. Really, are we convinced that no president since then has messed up? What was really interesting is that the two presidents to use the phrase "mistakes were made" the most, were none other than Richard Nixon (of course) and, wait for it, the beloved Ronald Reagan. What is so insidious about the phrase (which Clinton even joked about using it so much) is that it is a complete avoidance of responsibility.
- Finally, resolving dissonance is not completely bad, and does serve to preserve our beliefs, confidence, and self-esteem. However, it also gets us into trouble. Hence, the authors suggest that it is possible to remain committed to a religion, political party, or partner, yet understand that "it is not disloyal to disagree with actions or policies" that one believes are inappropriate, misguided, or immoral.
Profile Image for Peter Tillman.
3,682 reviews347 followers
February 2, 2019
Rather than actually write a review three years on, I will refer you to my colleague Susan Stepney's first-rate review: https://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/susan...
"No-one is a monster in their own view, yet people do monstrous things. At a less extreme level, people do petty and mean things too. Why?

The thesis of this book is that we rewrite our memories to overcome cognitive dissonance. How can we have done a bad thing, if we are good people?"

The best review I saw here is by Trevor: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
"... a deeply troubling book. Parts of this book felt like a mirror had been held up to me and I have to say that I really didn’t like what I saw. But this is a very important book and one that demands to be read. I recommend it without hesitation."
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