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‘Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)’ Selected as 2017-18 Common Read

June 01, 2017

The University of Idaho has chosen “Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts” by social psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson as its Common Read for 2017-18. 

“The students and faculty members on our Common Read committee loved the premise of this book and its lessons about our individual and collective behavior,” said Kenton Bird, UI’s director of General Education, which sponsors the Common Read.

The book describes the cognitive biases that lead many people to justify outdated beliefs, misguided decisions and harmful acts.

“In today’s polarized climate, where most of us live in identity bubbles that block our vision of other points of view, it’s more important than ever to understand why this happens—and how we can change,” Tavris said. 

The Common Read is supported by the Judith Runstad Lecture Series, which annually sponsors a keynote address by the book’s author or someone closely associated with the book. Tavris will give her address at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 23, in the International Ballroom of the Bruce M. Pitman Center. 

Now in its tenth year, the Common Read is designed to engage the university and Moscow community in a unified intellectual activity, Bird said.  First-year students will be assigned to read the book as part of their Integrated Seminar (ISEM) 101 course, part of UI’s innovative General Education program. Through more than two dozen topics, ranging from climate change to creativity, ISEM instructors introduce students to methods of inquiry in the humanities and social sciences.

“The Common Read acquaints  first-year students with academic expectations, respectful discourse and community building,” Bird said.

Other recent Runstad lecturers include Anthony Doerr, author of “All the Light We Cannot See” in 2015 and Sy Montgomery, author of “The Soul of an Octopus” in 2016.  

“Mistakes Were Made” was nominated by Russell Romney, a senior pursuing degrees in economics and mathematics and a member of the Common Read committee.

“I like this book because it can educate students about how much cognitive dissonance affects their lives, and uses specific, well-known examples to do so,” Romney said.

Tavris taught psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles and has lectured widely on topics in psychological science to diverse audiences around the world. She is author of “The Mismeasure of Woman and Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion.” Her articles, book reviews, and columns have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times.             

Aronson is eminent social psychologist, chosen by his peers as one of the 100 most influential psychologists of the century. He is best known for inventing the “jigsaw classroom” as a method of reducing group hostility and prejudice among schoolchildren, and for advancing the theory of cognitive dissonance. 

Copies of “Mistakes Were Made” are available through the VandalStore.

Media Contact:
Kenton Bird
Director, General Education


About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, a research and Extension center in Twin Falls, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to more than 11,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference and Sun Belt Conference. Learn more: