”People’s failure to admit mistakes may be related to cognitive dissonance, false memories, self-belief, and sunk costs. People who are not easy to admit mistakes(people refuse mistakes) have unique characteristics in their personality, attachment and even IQ. In fact, admitting mistakes can bring many benefits. This article teaches you how to admit mistakes scientifically”.

Why don’t people admit their mistakes?

  1. To avoid cognitive dissonance.
  2. False memories become accomplices.
  3. We only believe what we already believe.
  4.  The sunk cost is too high.


1 Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance (cognitive dissonance) refers to a kind of mental dissonance that people will have when self-cognition and another cognition/belief conflict. For example, a person claims to be a noble person who never lied, but he lied again, so “I am a noble person who does not lie” (self-awareness) and “I lied” (a recognition of behaviour) Conflict occurred, causing cognitive dissonance.

People tend to eliminate cognitive dissonance, and this impulse is not controlled by people. A person can choose to change their self-perception, or change their perception of behaviour to eliminate cognitive dissonance. For example, a person who lied can change his self-perception to “I am a person who occasionally lied”, or choose to deny the act of lying. Many people choose the latter because it is painful to realize that they are not so noble and perfect.

Therefore, if a person’s self-perception is more perfect and they think they “should not make mistakes”, then once someone points out a mistake to him and threatens their self-perception, they will automatically enter the defensive mode. And if you admit mistakes, the higher the financial, emotional, and moral risks you will pay, the greater the threat to yourself, the higher people’s defences will be, and the more fiercely people will refuse to admit mistakes.

2 Attitudes & Beliefs

Our attitudes and beliefs may distort our memories. In the past, people compared the brain to a computer, thinking that memory is like information stored in the computer, and it is always there. As long as we need to remember, we can retrieve the corresponding details. But in fact, we cannot remember every detail, we can only remember some important things.

When the event passes and we need to recall, the brain will process the memory in a self-enhancing way, piece together some details, and turn it into a decent story that fits our own ideas. But the fragments in these stories may be true at the time, or they may be hearsay or even fabricated out of thin air. For example, people will insist that they have witnessed a social event they did not actually witness; when asked about the number of sexual partners, people often give a lower number than the actual number.

Similarly, when people are pointed out wrong, their memory may also be distorted, and they will rearrange this memory in a way that is more beneficial to them: they may distort some details, or reconstruct the sequence of events, or simply change some of them. The part that is good for them to forget. These are all performed unconsciously, and people will not realize that they tend to synthesize this memory, or that their memory is not accurate enough.

3 Hypothesis (people refuse mistakes)

Social psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson (2008) believe that people often have a hypothesis:

  1. Those who are open-minded and fair will surely agree with rational views and beliefs.
  2. The beliefs, I hold must be rational, otherwise, I would not have these beliefs.

Therefore, when we receive a new message from other people, we compare it with our own beliefs, and consider the information that conforms to our beliefs as rational, and the information that does not conform to our beliefs as false. , And think that those who hold different ideas will oppose us because they are biased, not rational, and will not realize that their beliefs are wrong. This is why it is difficult for people to give up their positions in many values and ideological debates.

4 Decisions

Sunk costs refer to costs that cannot be retrieved or changed due to decisions made in the past. The greater the sunk cost of our upfront investment, the more we tend to maintain the decisions we have made. Because once you admit that the decision. You made before was wrong, it means that all the money, time, and energy. You paid before will become an ineffective waste. For example, a man has been dating his girlfriend for eight years and feels that they are not suitable for each other. But he does not want to admit that they are not suitable for each other. Break up because he feels that he has invested nearly ten years and it is a pity to give up.