Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)

Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)

Carol Tavris, Elliot Aronson

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

  • Why is it so easy to take credit for something when everything is going well but not accept responsibility when things go wrong?
  • Why is it so hard for anybody to admit to making a mistake?
  • Why do we see the hypocrisy in others but not in ourselves?
  • Are we all liars, or do we believe the lies we tell?

"Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)" is a collection of cognitive biases which result in people practically never feeling guilt, even when they clearly make mistakes, commit crimes or immoral acts. There's always a reason and an explanation in their minds for why they act the way they act. A reason that "gives them permission" or even dignifies them in their own eyes.

The book describes various mechanisms of how it happens and how we lie to others, but also to ourselves.

The tricky thing with cognitive biases is that some of them are so sneaky that they work even if you know full well what they are, how they work, and when you're aware that they're at play. Still, it's always good to be self-aware. Even if you fall victim to one of the mechanisms, it won't be as bad, and it will be easier to get back on track.

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