“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 Why is it so hard to say “I made a mistake”—and really believe it? When we make mistakes, cling to outdated attitudes, or mistreat other people, we must calm the cognitive dissonance that jars our feelings of self-worth. And so, unconsciously, 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, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) offers a fascinating explanation of self-justification—how it works, the damage it can cause, and how we can overcome it. This updated edition features new examples and concludes with an extended discussion of how we can live with dissonance, learn from it, and perhaps, eventually, forgive ourselves. “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
How does a boy from a financially and intellectually impoverished background grow up to become a Harvard researcher, win international acclaim for his groundbreaking work, and catch fire as a pioneering psychologist? As the only person in the history of the American Psychological Association to have won all three of its highest honors-for distinguished research, teaching, and writing- Elliot Aronson is living proof that humans are capable of capturing the power of the situation and conquering the prison of personality.A personal and compelling look into Aronson's profound contributions to the field of social psychology, Not by Chance Alone is a lifelong story of human potential and the power of social change.
Author: Leon Festinger
Publisher: Pinter & Martin Publishers
Release Date: 2008
In 1954 Leon Festinger, a brilliant young experimental social psychologist in the process of outlining a new theory of human behavior - the theory of cognitive dissonance - and his colleagues infiltrated a cult who believed the end of the world was only months away. How would these people feel when their prophecy remained unfulfilled? Would they admit the error of their prediction, or would they readjust their reality to make sense of the new circumstances?
Author: Craig Childs
Publisher: Little, Brown
Release Date: 2007-02-22
The greatest "unsolved mystery" of the American Southwest is the fate of the Anasazi, the native peoples who in the eleventh century converged on Chaco Canyon (in today's southwestern New Mexico) and built what has been called the Las Vegas of its day, a flourishing cultural center that attracted pilgrims from far and wide, a vital crossroads of the prehistoric world. The Anasazis' accomplishments - in agriculture, in art, in commerce, in architecture, and in engineering - were astounding, rivaling those of the Mayans in distant Central America. By the thirteenth century, however, the Anasazi were gone from Chaco. Vanished. What was it that brought about the rapid collapse of their civilization? Was it drought? pestilence? war? forced migration? mass murder or suicide? For many years conflicting theories have abounded. Craig Childs draws on the latest scholarly research, as well as on a lifetime of adventure and exploration in the most forbidding landscapes of the American Southwest, to shed new light on this compelling mystery.
Author: Keith E. Stanovich
Publisher: Yale University Press
Release Date: 2009-01-27
Critics of intelligence tests writers such as Robert Sternberg, Howard Gardner, and Daniel Goleman have argued in recent years that these tests neglect important qualities such as emotion, empathy, and interpersonal skills. However, such critiques imply that though intelligence tests may miss certain key noncognitive areas, they encompass most of what is important in the cognitive domain. In this book, Keith E. Stanovich challenges this widely held assumption.Stanovich shows that IQ tests (or their proxies, such as the SAT) are radically incomplete as measures of cognitive functioning. They fail to assess traits that most people associate with good thinking, skills such as judgment and decision making. Such cognitive skills are crucial to real-world behavior, affecting the way we plan, evaluate critical evidence, judge risks and probabilities, and make effective decisions. IQ tests fail to assess these skills of rational thought, even though they are measurable cognitive processes. Rational thought is just as important as intelligence, Stanovich argues, and it should be valued as highly as the abilities currently measured on intelligence tests.
Author: Robert A. Burton, M.D.
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: 2013-04-23
What if our soundest, most reasonable judgments are beyond our control? Despite 2500 years of contemplation by the world's greatest minds and the more recent phenomenal advances in basic neuroscience, neither neuroscientists nor philosophers have a decent understanding of what the mind is or how it works. The gap between what the brain does and the mind experiences remains uncharted territory. Nevertheless, with powerful new tools such as the fMRI scan, neuroscience has become the de facto mode of explanation of behavior. Neuroscientists tell us why we prefer Coke to Pepsi, and the media trumpets headlines such as "Possible site of free will found in brain." Or: "Bad behavior down to genes, not poor parenting." Robert Burton believes that while some neuroscience observations are real advances, others are overreaching, unwarranted, wrong-headed, self-serving, or just plain ridiculous, and often with the potential for catastrophic personal and social consequences. In A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind, he brings together clinical observations, practical thought experiments, personal anecdotes, and cutting-edge neuroscience to decipher what neuroscience can tell us – and where it falls woefully short. At the same time, he offers a new vision of how to think about what the mind might be and how it works. A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind is a critical, startling, and expansive journey into the mysteries of the brain and what makes us human.
Author: Joel Cooper
Release Date: 2007-03-27
'Dr. Joel Cooper has been at the very forefront of research on dissonance theory for decades now. In this book, he provides a brilliant and engagingly-written review of the 50-year history of dissonance research and a masterful account of the ensuing developments in the theory. The book will be an outstanding resource for readers familiar with dissonance research and an enlightening introduction for those who are not' - Professor Russell H. Fazio, Ohio State University Why is it that people who smoke continue to do so knowing how bad it is for them? What drives people to committing adultery even though they inherently believe this is wrong? What's the outcome of this contradiction in the mind? Cognitive dissonance has been an important and influential theory since Leon Festinger published his classic work in 1957. It is known by every social psychologist, most psychologists of any stripe, and the lay public, making its way into such mainstream publications as The New York Times with increasing frequency and accuracy. Ultimately, dissonance has become one of the most popularly known expressions of social psychological insights, making its way into the literature in consumer, health and economic behavior, and has become a frequently used explanation of political behavior in the popular press and magazines. In marking the 50th anniversary of the theory's inception, Joel Cooper - arguably the scholar most associated with dissonance research in the past few decades - has presented a beautiful, modern and comprehensive analysis of the state of dissonance theory. This book charts the progress of dissonance theory, assessing its impact not only within our understanding of psychology but in everyday experiences as well. It should be important reading for students in social psychology, either undergraduate or graduate, but equally relevant to a host of other readers who need to understand or share the same passions for appreciating the significance of cognitive dissonance in the human psyche.
Author: Richard Arum
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Release Date: 2014-09-02
Few books have ever made their presence felt on college campuses—and newspaper opinion pages—as quickly and thoroughly as Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s 2011 landmark study of undergraduates’ learning, socialization, and study habits, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. From the moment it was published, one thing was clear: no university could afford to ignore its well-documented and disturbing findings about the failings of undergraduate education. Now Arum and Roksa are back, and their new book follows the same cohort of undergraduates through the rest of their college careers and out into the working world. Built on interviews and detailed surveys of almost a thousand recent college graduates from a diverse range of colleges and universities, Aspiring Adults Adrift reveals a generation facing a difficult transition to adulthood. Recent graduates report trouble finding decent jobs and developing stable romantic relationships, as well as assuming civic and financial responsibility—yet at the same time, they remain surprisingly hopeful and upbeat about their prospects. Analyzing these findings in light of students’ performance on standardized tests of general collegiate skills, selectivity of institutions attended, and choice of major, Arum and Roksa not only map out the current state of a generation too often adrift, but enable us to examine the relationship between college experiences and tentative transitions to adulthood. Sure to be widely discussed, Aspiring Adults Adrift will compel us once again to re-examine the aims, approaches, and achievements of higher education.
The author of the bestselling You Are Not So Smart shares more discoveries about self-delusion and irrational thinking, and gives readers a fighting chance at outsmarting their not-so-smart brains David McRaney’s first book, You Are Not So Smart, evolved from his wildly popular blog of the same name. A mix of popular psychology and trivia, McRaney’s insights have struck a chord with thousands, and his blog--and now podcasts and videos--have become an Internet phenomenon. Like You Are Not So Smart, You Are Now Less Dumb is grounded in the idea that we all believe ourselves to be objective observers of reality--except we’re not. But that’s okay, because our delusions keep us sane. Expanding on this premise, McRaney provides eye-opening analyses of fifteen more ways we fool ourselves every day, including: The Misattribution of Arousal (Environmental factors have a greater affect on our emotional arousal than the person right in front of us) Sunk Cost Fallacy (We will engage in something we don’t enjoy just to make the time or money already invested “worth it”) Deindividuation (Despite our best intentions, we practically disappear when subsumed by a mob mentality) McRaney also reveals the true price of happiness, why Benjamin Franklin was such a badass, and how to avoid falling for our own lies. This smart and highly entertaining book will be wowing readers for years to come.
To err is human. Yet most of us go through life assuming (and sometimes insisting) that we are right about nearly everything, from the origins of the universe to how to load the dishwasher. In Being Wrong, journalist Kathryn Schulz explores why we find it so gratifying to be right and so maddening to be mistaken. Drawing on thinkers as varied as Augustine, Darwin, Freud, Gertrude Stein, Alan Greenspan, and Groucho Marx, she shows that error is both a given and a gift—one that can transform our worldviews, our relationships, and ourselves.
Despite being blessed with the power of intelligence, logic, imagination and analysis, why do we humans struggle to use the gift of common sense in so many areas of our lives? Have you ever found yourself wondering... Why do we get angry or irritated? Why do we feel guilty? Why do we tell lies or get defensive? Why is there so much lack of trust? Why do we struggle to accept ourselves as we are? Why do we often complicate our own lives? Why do we love to criticize or shy away from candid conversation? The simple truth is that we could handle situations better and solve dilemmas just by applying common sense. This book takes a clear-eyed look at day-to-day scenarios we are all familiar with, in which, by simply altering our perspective and using some common sense, we can resolve or reduce our issues. It serves as a down- to-earth guide to letting go of negative emotions such as anger, frustration, guilt, grief, irritation, unhappiness and joylessness. These pages are dedicated to helping people live their lives with greater ease, freedom, and simplicity – by consciously using the most important tool existence has bestowed upon us – common sense.