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

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“Entertaining, illuminating and—when you recognize yourself in the stories it tells—mortifying.” —Wall Street Journal

“Every page sparkles with sharp insight and keen observation. Mistakes were made—but not in this book!” —Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness
 
Why is it so hard to say “I made a mistake”—and really believe it?
 
When we make mistakes, cling to outdated attitudes, or mistreat other people, we must calm the cognitive dissonance that jars our feelings of self-worth. And so, unconsciously, 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, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Meoffers a fascinating explanation of self-justification—how it works, the damage it can cause, and how we can overcome it. This updated edition features new examples and concludes with an extended discussion of how we can live with dissonance, learn from it, and perhaps, eventually, forgive ourselves.
 
“A revelatory study of how lovers, lawyers, doctors, politicians—and all of us—pull the wool over our own eyes . . . 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
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About the author

CAROL TAVRIS is a social psychologist and author of Anger and The Mismeasure of Woman. She has written for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Scientific American, and many other publications. She lives in Los Angeles.
ELLIOT ARONSON is a social psychologist and author of The 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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Additional Information

Publisher
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Published on
May 5, 2008
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780547416038
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Language
English
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Genres
Psychology / General
Psychology / Social Psychology
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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On April 20, 1999, the halls of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, reverberated with the sound of gunshots as two students, highly armed and consumed with rage, killed thirteen students and seriously injured twenty-three before turning the guns on themselves. It was the worst school massacre in out nation's history. Can we prevent a tragedy like this from happening again?

In Elliot Aronson's Nobody Left to Hate, on of our nation's leading social psychologists argues that the negative atmosphere in our schools--the exclusion, taunting, humiliation, and bullying--played a major role in triggering the pathological behavior of the shooters. At the very least, such an atmosphere makes schools an unpleasant experience for most normal students.

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Whether we're buying a pair of jeans, ordering a cup of coffee, selecting a long-distance carrier, applying to college, choosing a doctor, or setting up a 401(k), everyday decisions—both big and small—have become increasingly complex due to the overwhelming abundance of choice with which we are presented.

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In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains at what point choice—the hallmark of individual freedom and self-determination that we so cherish—becomes detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being. In accessible, engaging, and anecdotal prose, Schwartz shows how the dramatic explosion in choice—from the mundane to the profound challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs—has paradoxically become a problem instead of a solution. Schwartz also shows how our obsession with choice encourages us to seek that which makes us feel worse.

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The definitive firsthand account of the groundbreaking research of Philip Zimbardo—the basis for the award-winning film The Stanford Prison Experiment

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By illuminating the psychological causes behind such disturbing metamorphoses, Zimbardo enables us to better understand a variety of harrowing phenomena, from corporate malfeasance to organized genocide to how once upstanding American soldiers came to abuse and torture Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib. He replaces the long-held notion of the “bad apple” with that of the “bad barrel”—the idea that the social setting and the system contaminate the individual, rather than the other way around.

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From the Hardcover edition.
On April 20, 1999, the halls of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, reverberated with the sound of gunshots as two students, highly armed and consumed with rage, killed thirteen students and seriously injured twenty-three before turning the guns on themselves. It was the worst school massacre in out nation's history. Can we prevent a tragedy like this from happening again?

In Elliot Aronson's Nobody Left to Hate, on of our nation's leading social psychologists argues that the negative atmosphere in our schools--the exclusion, taunting, humiliation, and bullying--played a major role in triggering the pathological behavior of the shooters. At the very least, such an atmosphere makes schools an unpleasant experience for most normal students.

But it doesn't have to be. Nobody Left to Hate offers concise, practical, and easy-to-apply strategies for creating a more supportive, stimulating, and compassionate environment in our schools. Based on decades of scientific research and classroom testing, these strategies explain how students can be taught to control their own impulses, how to respect others, and how to resolve conflicts amicably. In addition, they show teachers how to structure classes to promote cooperation, rather than competition, without sacrificing academics. On the contrary, education is greatly enhanced.

For parents, teachers, or anyone concerned with what is happening in our schools, Nobody Left to Hate provides a simple and effective plan of action that will make their children's school not only a safe place, but a more humane place of learning.

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