Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)

By: Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson

This book is filled with excellent examples relating to the psychology of cognitive dissonance, which is the situation of having conflicting thoughts. In it, Tavris and Aronson point out with many well-known examples from the news how quickly and effortlessly people jump to something other than the truth in order to bridge the gap between an error in judgement and the self-held belief that they themselves are good and competent people.

It doesn’t stop there. The ramifications of cognitive dissonance permeates every aspect of our lives, what we buy and how we relate to other people. On a large scale it affects how nations interact. The book concludes that the dissonance is both a natural part of being human and something to be aware of. They suggest that being aware when we are wrong and trying to see the other point of view even if we have a lot invested in our own view-point is the critical step leading to a resolution.

This is yet another book I would recommend as required reading at the high-school level. It opens the door on understanding our own behaviour as well as that of others.