Why It’s So Hard to Admit You’re Wrong

May 24, 2017

By Kristin Wong

Despite your best intentions and efforts, it is inevitable: At some point in your life, you will be wrong.

Mistakes can be hard to digest, so sometimes we double down rather than face them. Our confirmation bias kicks in, causing us to seek out evidence to prove what we already believe. The car you cut off has a small dent in its bumper, which obviously means that it is the other driver’s fault.

Psychologists call this cognitive dissonance the stress we experience when we hold two contradictory thoughts, beliefs, opinions or attitudes. For example, you might believe you are a kind and fair person, so when you rudely cut someone off, you experience dissonance. To cope with it, you deny your mistake and insist the other driver should have seen you, or you had the right of way even if you didn’t.

“Cognitive dissonance is what we feel when the self-concept — I’m smart, I’m kind, I’m convinced this belief is true — is threatened by evidence that we did something that wasn’t smart, that we did something that hurt another person, that the belief isn’t true,” said Carol Tavris, a co-author of the book “Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me).”

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2 comments on “Why It’s So Hard to Admit You’re Wrong

  • thev’e completely ignored that a large factor is to maintain reputation as a competent person to others not just to your own ego.

    Report abuse

  • @OP – Why It’s So Hard to Admit You’re Wrong

    Let’s see if the pope is is up to the challenge?


    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a request for Pope Francis: say sorry for the role of the Catholic Church in a Canadian school system where indigenous children were abused.

    The PM met the pontiff at the Vatican on Monday as part of his trip to Italy for the G7 summit.

    The residential schools were set up from the 1880s to take children from their families and assimilate them into mainstream Canadian society.

    The last one closed in 1996.

    Some 150,000 aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families, and sent to live in church-run boarding schools where they were forbidden to speak their language or practise their own culture.

    Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called for a papal apology, as part of the healing process for survivors.

    Although details of Mr Trudeau’s private audience have not been made public, the Vatican confirmed the talk was “cordial” and lasted about 36 minutes.

    The Vatican said the conversation “focused on the themes of integration and reconciliation, as well as religious freedom and current ethical issues” but did not mention an apology directly.

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