Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions and Hurtful Acts
A study of cognitive dissonance and the need for self-justification. The authors explore the ways in which people respond to the realisation that they've been wrong, and the likelihood that they'll try to rationalise-away the resulting dissonance coming from having two contradictory thoughts in mind. The same phenomenon re-appears in many guises, from personal relationships to wrongful prosecutions and ill-starred wars. What was fascinating for me was the way in which the same mechanisms can protect a poor self-image as well as an inflated one; but also the observation that both self-deception and its alternatives in the form of self-scrutiny and making deliberate amends come with harsh psychological prices, contrary to what the modern self-help literature might suggest.
5/5. Finished 29 July 2018.
(Originally published on Goodreads.)