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BOOK - Mistakes Were Made (but not by me): Why we Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts

by Carol Tavris, Ph.D., Elliot Aronson, Ph.D..

11 Credit Hours - $139
Last revised: 10/26/2018

Course content © Copyright 2018 - 2020 by Carol Tavris, Ph.D., Elliot Aronson, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.


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Mistakes Cover



Mistakes Were Made (but not by me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts


By: Carol Tavris, Ph.D. and Elliot Aronson, Ph.D.




Paperback: 378 pages

Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2007, 2015)

Formats: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

CE hours: 9

















Taking the course:

This course includes reading the book, Mistakes Were Made (but not by me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts and then completing the CE test (The actual book is not included in the cost of this CE course). You can log in and take the test at any time. The test-help feature is not available for the Book Courses; however, you can take the test as many times as necessary until you pass. As with all of our courses, you pay after you have completed all the course requirements.


Book Description (From the Publisher):

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? Renowned social psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson take a compelling look into how the brain is wired for self-justification. When we make mistakes, we must calm the cognitive dissonance that jars our feelings of self-worth. And so, 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 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.






Define and discuss cognitive dissonance

Explain psychological blind spots and naïve realism

Discuss the biases of memory

Explain the closed loop of clinical judgment

Explain self-justification in marital relationships



Example Book Reviews

“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
“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


About the Authors


TravrisCarol Tavris, Ph.D.

Carol Tavris is a social psychologist, writer, and lecturer whose goal is to promote psychological science and critical thinking in improving our lives. She is coauthor of Mistakes Were Made (but not by me): Why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts and Estrogen Matters. Her other major books include, Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion. She is also author of the award-winning book, The Mismeasure of Woman, and coauthor of two widely used textbooks for introductory psychology. She has written hundreds of essays and book reviews on topics in psychological science and is a highly regarded lecturer who has spoken to groups around the world. She is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities.





AronsonElliot Aronson, Ph.D.

Elliot Aronson is a social psychologist and Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Santa Cruz and Distinguished Visiting Professor at Stanford University. He has previously taught at Harvard, the University of Texas and the University of Minnesota. As a researcher, he is best known for his groundbreaking research on social influence and persuasion as well as for the invention of the jigsaw classroom (a strategy for reducing prejudice in public schools). He has authored or co-authored 22 books including The Social Animal, Age of Propaganda, and Nobody Left to Hate.

Aronson is the only person in the 120-year history of the American Psychological Association to have received all three of its highest awards: For Distinguished Research, Distinguished Teaching, and Distinguished Writing. In 1981, he was named Professor of the Year by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. Among his other awards are the Gordon Allport prize for his contributions to inter-racial harmony and the William James Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Psychological Science (2007). Recently, his peers named him as one of the 100 most influential psychologists of the 20th Century. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has served as President of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology as well as President of the Western Psychological Association 



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