Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)

Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts
Author Carol Tavris, Elliot Aronson
Cover artist Jennifer Jackman
Country United States
Language English
Subject Psychology
Publisher Harcourt
Publication date
Media type Hardcover
Pages 298
ISBN 978-0-15-101098-1
OCLC 71005837
153 22
LC Class BF337.C63 T38 2007

Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) is a non-fiction book by social psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson, first published in 2007. It deals with cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias and other cognitive biases, using these psychological theories to illustrate how the perpetrators (and victims) of hurtful acts justify and rationalize their behavior. It describes a positive feedback loop of action and self-deception by which slight differences between people's attitudes become polarized.

Topics and people mentioned


Philosopher Daniele Procida described the book as an "immensely engaging and intelligent volume" and "a genuinely illuminating contribution to the study of human nature" but also criticised the book's informal style and sometimes outdated assumptions.[1]

Michael Shermer in the Scientific American wrote that Tavris and Aronson brilliantly illuminate the fallacies that underlie irrational behavior.[2]

A review in O, The Oprah Magazine praised the book for "the scientific evidence it provides and the charm of its down-to-earth, commonsensical tone".[3]

A review in The Guardian described the book as "excellent" and suggests the quotation, "If mistakes were made, memory helps us remember that they were made by someone else", should be printed on autobiographies and political memoirs as a warning to the public.[4] The British comedian and novelist Alexei Sayle listed the book among his six favorites, recommending it as "endlessly fascinating if you're interested in politics."[5]

See also


  1. Procida, Daniele (2007). "Review- Mistakes were made (but not by me)" Metapsychology Online Reviews Volume 11, Issue 31
  2. Shermer, Michael. (May 2007) "Skeptic: Bush's Mistake and Kennedy's Error". Scientific American
  3. Prose, Francine (May 1, 2007). "The liars' club: a revelatory study of how lovers, lawyers, doctors, politicians--and all of us--pull the wool over our own eyes." O, The Oprah Magazine (Hearst Communications)
  4. Newnham, David (2008-05-24). "Review: Right all along: David Newnham on the dangers of relying on one's memory". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-03-29.
  5. Sayle, Alexei (December 3, 2010). "My Six Best Books". The Express. p. 48.
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