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When we make mistakes, cling to outdated attitudes, or mistreat other people, we must calm the cognitive dissonance that jars our feelings of self-worth.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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Social Control falls within social psychology, which is the branch of knowledge that deals with the psychic interplay between man and his environment. In Ross' terms, one of these branches, social ascendency, deals with the domination of society over the individual. Another, individual ascendency, embraces such topics as invention, leadership, the role of great men, and deals with the domination of the individual over society.Social ascendency is divided into social infl uence-- mob mind, fashion, convention, custom, public opinion, and the like--and social control. Th e former is occupied with social domination that is without intention or purpose. The latter is concerned with social domination that is intended and that fulfi ls a function in the life of society. At the start of the twentieth century this work played an important role in the origination of social psychology as a distinct field.Ross sought to determine how far the order we see about us is due to infl uences that reach men and women without social intervention. Investigation shows that the personality freely unfolds under conditions of healthy fellowship and may arrive at goodness on its own, and that order is explained partly by this streak in human nature and partly by the infl uence of social surroundings. Ross' book separates the individual's contribution to social order from that of society, and, brings to light everything that is considered in the social contribution of the individual. Th is classic volume is an important contribution to the history of ideas.
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.

The New York Times bestselling author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality returns with thought-provoking work to challenge our preconceptions about dishonesty and urge us to take an honest look at ourselves. Does the chance of getting caught affect how likely we are to cheat? How do companies pave the way for dishonesty? Does collaboration make us more honest or less so? Does religion improve our honesty?

Most of us think of ourselves as honest, but, in fact, we all cheat. From Washington to Wall Street, the classroom to the workplace, unethical behavior is everywhere. None of us is immune, whether it's the white lie to head off trouble or padding our expense reports. In The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, award-winning, bestselling author Dan Ariely turns his unique insight and innovative research to the question of dishonesty.

Generally, we assume that cheating, like most other decisions, is based on a rational cost-benefit analysis. But Ariely argues, and then demonstrates, that it's actually the irrational forces that we don't take into account that often determine whether we behave ethically or not. For every Enron or political bribe, there are countless puffed résumés, hidden commissions, and knockoff purses. In The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Ariely shows why some things are easier to lie about; how getting caught matters less than we think; and how business practices pave the way for unethical behavior, both intentionally and unintentionally. Ariely explores how unethical behavior works in the personal, professional, and political worlds, and how it affects all of us, even as we think of ourselves as having high moral standards.

But all is not lost. Ariely also identifies what keeps us honest, pointing the way for achieving higher ethics in our everyday lives. With compelling personal and academic findings, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty will change the way we see ourselves, our actions, and others.

A fascinating journey into the hidden psychological influences that derail our decision-making, Sway will change the way you think about the way you think.

Why is it so difficult to sell a plummeting stock or end a doomed relationship? Why do we listen to advice just because it came from someone “important”? Why are we more likely to fall in love when there’s danger involved? In Sway, renowned organizational thinker Ori Brafman and his brother, psychologist Rom Brafman, answer all these questions and more.

Drawing on cutting-edge research from the fields of social psychology, behavioral economics, and organizational behavior, Sway reveals dynamic forces that influence every aspect of our personal and business lives, including loss aversion (our tendency to go to great lengths to avoid perceived losses), the diagnosis bias (our inability to reevaluate our initial diagnosis of a person or situation), and the “chameleon effect” (our tendency to take on characteristics that have been arbitrarily assigned to us).

Sway introduces us to the Harvard Business School professor who got his students to pay $204 for a $20 bill, the head of airline safety whose disregard for his years of training led to the transformation of an entire industry, and the football coach who turned conventional strategy on its head to lead his team to victory. We also learn the curse of the NBA draft, discover why interviews are a terrible way to gauge future job performance, and go inside a session with the Supreme Court to see how the world’s most powerful justices avoid the dangers of group dynamics.

Every once in a while, a book comes along that not only challenges our views of the world but changes the way we think. In Sway, Ori and Rom Brafman not only uncover rational explanations for a wide variety of irrational behaviors but also point readers toward ways to avoid succumbing to their pull.
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