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in: A Man's Life, Personal Development, Podcast

• Last updated: March 26, 2021

Podcast #693: Why Is It So Hard to Admit You Were Wrong?

Personal responsibility, the ability to own up to one’s mistakes, is a foundational element of character. It’s also the only way we can grow and get better. But as anyone with any experience being human well understands, dang, it sure can be hard to do.

My guest today explains why, and how you can yet rise to meet this important challenge. His name is Elliot Aronson, and he’s a social psychologist and the co-author of Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts. Elliot first explains how and why we engage in self-justification to avoid facing our mistakes, and how this process is driven by the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance. We then discuss how once you make a decision in a certain direction, good or bad, you become more entrenched in your attitude about it and more likely to continue down that same path, and how this phenomenon represents what Elliot calls “the pyramid of choice.” We end our conversation with how we can learn to approach the mistakes of others with more generosity, and our own mistakes with more honesty.

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Show Highlights

  • Why being unable to own up to your mistakes is so insidious 
  • How to live with cognitive dissonance (and how people often do it poorly)  
  • How cheating (or not cheating) changes your future attitudes towards cheating 
  • What’s the way “out” of cheating? How do you own up to it?
  • The vicious cycle of unwanted behavior 
  • Why we end up demonizing people in the midst of big changes 
  • Why we’re so intent on not changing our mind about something
  • How dissonance shows up in our criminal justice system 
  • The stories we tell ourselves to justify holding on to our wrong beliefs 
  • What can you do today to start avoiding self-justifications 
  • The power of forgiveness — towards yourself and others 

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