August 3, 2007
Carol Tavris is a social psychologist, lecturer, and writer whose books include Anger and The Mismeasure of Woman. She has written on psychological topics for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Scientific American, Skeptical Inquiry, and many other publications. A Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science, and a member of the editorial board of Psychological Science in the Public Interest, she is also a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Her new book is Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, co-authored with Elliot Aronson, one of the most distinguished social psychologists in the world.
In this wide-ranging discussion with D.J. Grothe, Carol Tavris explains "cognitive dissonance," and how it can lead to self-deception and self-justification. She talks about the ways that reducing dissonance leads to real-world negative effects in the areas of politics, law, criminal justice, and in interpersonal relationships. She also explores what dissonance theory says about confronting those who hold discredited beliefs, what dissonance theory may say about religious and paranormal belief, and the role of the scientific temper in avoiding the pitfalls of cognitive dissonance.