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Posts tagged "Elliot Aronson"

The King of Dissonance

The King of Dissonance

Well, I’ve been taking up DZ’s advice and making my way through Harriet Lerner’s slim little power-punch of a book, Why Won’t You Apologize? (He actually left it on my desk before the sabbatical…Soooo, did he mean for me to read it? Did I say, or not say, something?) The book is a powerful glimpse into all the strategies and self-deceptions we have around our wrongdoing–on what counts as an apology, and on what keeps us from doing it. As Dave mentioned, Lerner keys in on the prime impulse that makes the non-apologizer a non-apologizer: the need to be perfect.

Some people are so hard…

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From the Archives: Getting What You Want By Revising What You Had

From the Archives: Getting What You Want By Revising What You Had

Have you ever reminisced with a friend or family member about an event, only to find that you have two contradictory recollections? It can be harmless – e.g. what color shirt someone was wearing on our 10th birthday – or it can be painful – you were clearly mother’s favorite child vs. No, you were.

These things don’t have to be in the distant past. I attended a church service a few years ago in which a preacher spoke, regretfully, about refusing to marry an inter-religious couple early in his ministry. The couple also happened to be an interracial one. He…

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Another Week Ends: Cognitive Dissonance, Internet Addiction, Middle-Aged Mortals, and Unanswered Prayers

Another Week Ends: Cognitive Dissonance, Internet Addiction, Middle-Aged Mortals, and Unanswered Prayers

Update: Accompanying episode of The Mockingcast up on iTunes now!

ONE. On Monday, Mallory Ortberg, founder of The Toast (the-toast.net), posted a video in which she discusses her experience founding a blog. It’s safe to say that we’ve become fans of The Toast here at Mockingbird, and Ortberg’s language in this video, and her transparency, explains why. She speaks in a direct, very honest (and extremely funny) way, reminding us that when we look at the true ridiculousness of everyday life we experience the freedom to laugh at ourselves.

She starts by calling out performancism, the anxiety that accompanies trying to live…

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Frank and Debra and the Assassin of Love

Frank and Debra and the Assassin of Love

We come now to the final part of our series on self-justification, as articulated in the stellar book Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, and I think you’ll agree that we saved the best – certainly the most crucial – for last. (Part One, Part Two and Part Three).

As we’ve hopefully demonstrated, the drive for self-justification lurks behind an absurd amount of misdoing, hypocrisy, and, well, sin. It leads us to compromise our values, edit our memories, deceive others and ourselves, even to wage war, globally and domestically. We…

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Getting What You Want By Revising What You Had: Justifying Our Lives Away, Pt 3

Getting What You Want By Revising What You Had: Justifying Our Lives Away, Pt 3

Continuing with our series on Self-Justification (part one, part two), we come to a subject of particular relevance this week: memory. Our text, as you’ll recall, is the excellent Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) by Elliot Aronson and Carol Tavris.

Have you ever reminisced with a friend or family member about an event, only to find that you have two contradictory recollections? It can be harmless – e.g. what color shirt someone was wearing on our 10th birthday – or it can be painful – you were clearly mother’s favorite child vs. No, you were.

These things don’t have to…

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Noisy Apartments, Cognitive Dissonance, and the Cost of Self-Justification

Noisy Apartments, Cognitive Dissonance, and the Cost of Self-Justification

Four years ago, my wife and I moved into an apartment on what is commonly considered the busiest block in Manhattan, 60th St between 2nd and 3rd Ave, also known as the off-ramp of Queensboro bridge. It is the main entrance point into New York for commercial traffic, as well as one of its prime shopping districts. Night and day, 18-wheelers rolled past our window and taxis honked their horns. Scores of tweens loitered outside Dylan’s Candy Bar, right across the street, and gazillions of tourists inexplicably flocked to California Pizza Kitchen next door.

It was a terrible decision. Sure, the…

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Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Justifying Our Lives Away, Pt 1

Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Justifying Our Lives Away, Pt 1

The best piece of non-fiction I’ve read this summer – by a long shot – is the little social science paperback Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts. The title gives away the appeal. The authors, Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson, place “justification” at the very center of day-to-day life, arguing that you simply cannot understand yourself or other people without understanding the (universal) justifying impulse. They go so far as to attribute most of life’s problems and a great deal of human suffering to its prevalence and power, all…

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