“Mistakes were made (but not by me)”: Part 4

This book can be purchased at: http://www.amazon.ca/Mistakes-Were-Made-But-Not/dp/0156033909

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 9.10.00 AMToday we are going to finish our look at Chapter 1, “Cognitive Dissonance: The Pyramid of Choice.”

“The Pyramid of Choice” refers to a very important concept that we have all experienced and a concept that will be referred to throughout the book. The authors use an example where two students are writing and exam. Both of the students in question are of similar intelligence, have the same grade going into the test and are for the most part equal in every way.

The two students get to a question on the exam that they both cannot answer and are faced with having to choose between cheating to get a good grade and preserving their personal integrity. At this point, both students are at the exact same spot, on the top of the proverbial Pyramid of choice. One chooses to cheat and the other chooses to maintain his integrity.

A week later, each student has had time to justify their decision. The one who cheated has blown off the decision as no big deal and the one who did not cheat has reinforced his belief that all cheaters should be brought to justice. At this point the two students have sunk to the bottom of the Pyramid of Choice and find themselves as far apart as they could possibly be.

I have found myself at the bottom of this pyramid more than once and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I feel completely justified in my opinions while I am standing there. It’s only when I take a step back, that I see the situation for what it really is. That doesn’t mean that it will be any easier for me to change my opinion, but my moral compass does force some regulation.

The  fascinating part here, is how a split second decision, can have such a long lasting impact on our lives and relationships. The text goes on to cite a number of other examples where this same thing has happened, but I have no doubt about the phenomena.

This concept will come up again in the next chapter “Pride, Prejudice and other blind spots”.

Because of our human nature, there is very little that we can do to avoid this type of behaviour unless we are conscious of its existence. We know that blind spots exist in our cars, so we make a special effort to avoid accidents by forcing ourselves to check them.

The same thing has to happen with blind spots in our psyche.

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