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
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. ...show less
Edition/Copyright:07 Cover: Paperback Publisher:Harcourt Brace or Harcourt Press Year Published: 2007 International: No
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CAROL TAVRISis a social psychologist and author ofAngerandThe Mismeasure of Woman. She has written for theLos Angeles TimestheNew York Times Scientific Americanand many other publications. She lives in Los Angeles. ELLIOT ARONSONis a social psychologist and author ofThe 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.
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CHAPTER 1 Cognitive Dissonance: The Engine of Self-justification Press release date: November 1 1993 we didn't make a mistake when we wrote in our previous releases that New York would be destroyed on September 4 and October 14 1993. We didn't make a mistake not even a teeny eeny one! Press release date: April 4 1994 All the dates we have given in our past releases are correct dates given by God as contained in Holy Scriptures. Not one of these dates was wrong . . . Ezekiel gives a total of 430 days for the siege of the city . . . [which] brings us exactly to May 2 1994. By now all the people have been forewarned. We have done our job. . . . We are the only ones in the entire world guiding the people to their safety security and salvation! We have a 100 percent track record!1 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. Notice that hardly anyone ever says ''I blew it! I can't believe how stupid I was to believe that nonsense''? On the contrary most of the time they become even more deeply convinced of their powers of prediction. The people who believe that the Bible's book of Revelation or the writings of the sixteenth-century self-proclaimed prophet Nostradamus have predicted every disaster from the bubonic plague to 9/11 cling to their convictions unfazed by the small problem that their vague and murky predictions were intelligible only after the event occurred. Half a century ago a young social psychologist named Leon Festinger and two associates infiltrated a group of people who believed the world would end on December 21.2 They wanted to know what would happen to the group when (they hoped!) the prophecy failed. The group's leader whom the researchers called Marian Keech promised that the faithful would be picked up by a flying saucer and elevated to safety at midnight on December 20. Many of her followers quit their jobs gave away their homes and dispersed their savings waiting for the end. Who needs money in outer space? Others waited in fear or resignation in their homes. (Mrs. Keech's own husband a nonbeliever went to bed early and slept soundly through the night as his wife and her followers prayed in the living room.) Festinger made his own prediction: The believers who had not made a strong commitment to the prophecywho awaited the end of the world by themselves at home hoping they weren't going to die at midnightwould quietly lose their faith in Mrs. Keech. But those who had given away their possessions and were waiting with the others for the spaceship would increase their belief in her mystical abilities. In fact they would now do everything they could to get others to join them. At midnight with no sign of a spaceship in the yard the group felt a little nervous. By 2 a.m. they were getting seriously worried. At 4:45 a.m. Mrs. Keech had a new vision: The world had been spared she said because of the impressive faith of her little band. ''And mighty is the word of God'' she told her followers ''and by his word have ye been savedfor from the mouth of death have ye been delivered and at no time has there be
View Table of Contents
Introduction Knaves Fools Villains and Hypocrites: How Do They Live with Themselves? 1 Chapter 1 Cognitive Dissonance: The Engine of Self-justification 11 Chapter 2 Pride and Prejudice . . . and Other Blind Spots 40 Chapter 3 Memory the Self-justifying Historian 68 Chapter 4 Good Intentions Bad Science: The Closed Loop of Clinical Judgment 97 Chapter 5 Law and Disorder 127 Chapter 6 Love's Assassin: Self-justification in Marriage 158 Chapter 7 Wounds Rifts and Wars 185 Chapter 8 Letting Go and Owning Up 213 Afterword 237 Endnotes 239 Index 277
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