Why Don't Some People Admit Their Mistakes?

Throughout our lives, we have to deal with many people who don't admit their mistakes. In this article, discover 7 reasons why some people have trouble doing this.
Why Don't Some People Admit Their Mistakes?

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Admitting a mistake is never easy. Regardless of its nature, it requires an exercise in humility and sincerity, so we often come across people who don’t admit their mistakes. This is a permanent attitude that can lead to more unpleasant consequences, not to mention the uncertainty that invades us when faced with their behavior.

Often the reason for this is very simple: they’re very self-centered, and their ego prevents them from lowering their head to admit a mistake. While this can, of course, explain many attitudes, for others, it falls short. In reality, there are many reasons why people don’t admit their mistakes, but today we’ve gathered 7 of the most common ones.

Ready to read them?

Seven reasons why people don’t admit their mistakes

We have all heard the phrase “You learn from mistakes.” Most people know that making mistakes is part of life, so much so that they assimilate naturally when their choices or behaviors aren’t quite right.

This is why we may be surprised when we meet people who don’t admit their mistakes. The surprise is even greater when their attitude has resulted in many consequences, such as hurting otherl people.

Let’s see what’s hidden behind those who can’t acknowledge that they’ve made a mistake.

1. They’re very stubborn

Stubbornness is an immovable attitude.  In fact, some experts claim that stubbornness is a strength of weak people, since it’s often used n as a compensatory mechanism for inner weakness.

Being stubborn can be helpful in some contexts but detrimental in others. For example, to persevere in something, you must maintain a bit of stubbornness. This can lead you to achieve great things. However, it can also lead to permanent failure if you don’t learn to distinguish when it’s best to back off.

In any case, many people who don’t admit their mistakes are often demonstrating stubborn behavior. They don’t assimilate that they’ve acted badly because they cling almost pathologically to their attitude.

Sometimes, there’s no reason for it or even benefits from this stubbornness. They just do it because they have over-embraced their stubbornness.

2. They have too much pride

Las características de las personas orgullosas son muy variadas
Pride can be expressed in many ways, not just by not admitting mistakes. Problems in relating, living together, and working are the daily bread of people with too much pride.

Pride is understood as the excess of esteem that a person has towards themselves. It’s almost always accompanied by an attitude of superiority towards others (without the latter, it’s just high self-esteem). Often, pride is also accompanied by other attitudes such as arrogance or vanity.

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The sum of all this can translate into not acknowledging the mistakes that have been made. If you think you’re superior to others in every way (when it comes to morals, intelligence, abilities, and so on), it’s unlikely that you’ll be willing to accept their mistakes. Too much pride is then one of the causes of this behavior.

3. They don’t admit their mistakes because they’re irresponsible

Not all stubborn or proud people are irresponsible, so a clear distinction should arise at this point. Sometimes, people who don’t admit their mistakes are just irresponsible individuals. Irresponsibility is the unwillingness to fulfill or take a mandate, obligation, or action.

Some experts associate it with immaturity. Indeed, a mature adult is open to assuming the consequences of his or her actions. Therefore, those who are not mature will run away from them, deny them, or simply never accept that they’re their fault.

4. They’re not empathetic

Although empathy is something that we also find in many species of animals, we can say that it’s more developed in humans. To be empathic is to connect with the feelings and emotions of others so that something is not only evaluated only from one’s own emotions or feelings.

Researchers point out that empathy is greater in people who have experienced the emotions of others. For example, someone who’s lost a loved one is more empathetic when supporting or accompanying someone close to them who’s going through this process. If an individual for one reason or another has not dealt in the past with the consequences that are being attributed to their mistake, they may choose not to acknowledge them.

According to the evidence, empathy is very important for humans to develop socially. Those who are empathic generally have better social relationships, a larger circle of friends, a more stable relationship, and better job performance. Therefore, empathic failure can have many consequences for a normative life.

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5. They don’t admit their mistakes because they don’t want to be seen as weak

Some people don’t admit their mistakes because they’re afraid of being seen as weak. This occurs outside of pride, as it often develops in people who have some responsibility, status or have formed a strong opinion among those around them.

The most classic example is a teacher who won’t admit a mistake pointed out by one of their students. The hierarchical relationship that implicitly exists between them and reputation may condition the teacher to assimilate criticism regardless of whether or not they have a prideful attitude.

Those who are the head of a family, high-ranking employees, leaders, and others may embrace this paradigm more readily. This does not imply that all who share this position reject criticism, but since many achieve it based on years of effort or hard work, they fear it will crumble because of a single mistake.

6. They’re averse to change

Las personas que no admiten sus errores son reacias a los cambios
Change takes a considerable amount of energy and planning, which inevitably leads to mistakes. Some people are unwilling to take the latter risk.

Acknowledging a mistake is relatively easy. What’s difficult is to activate the machinery to correct it and to assume attitudes aimed at modifying behavior to prevent it from happening again. This is the most difficult thing, especially for all those who are reluctant to change.

Change is part of life, so most people accept it as such. Change is seen as something dangerous for another group, requiring a lot of effort, concentration, or willingness. Acknowledging a mistake implies assuming all of the above, which can be complicated for those who have built their lives on solid, unchanging ground.

7. They don’t think it’s important

Finally, another explanation for people who do not accept their mistakes is that they don’t consider their actions important or don’t realize how they affect others. It’s possible that they don’t respond to the previous criteria and they think that what they’ve said or done isn’t that important or that its consequences aren’t so serious.

Even if this isn’t so (that is to say, that the consequences are not so small), they will choose to deny it or simply ignore it. In short, they’re indifferent to their surroundings. Like all of the above, indifference can be a major obstacle to building stable social relationships.

Finally, it’s important to remember that some disorders can explain the behavior of people who don’t admit their mistakes. For example, one of the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder is a reluctance to admit error. However, most cases can be explained from the 7 points explained above.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • De Vignemont, F., & Singer, T. The empathic brain: how, when and why?. Trends in cognitive sciences. 2006; 10(10): 435-441.
  • Kets de Vries, M. F. I won’t, therefore I am: Being Stubborn. 2018.
  • Zaki, J., & Cikara, M. Addressing empathic failures. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 2015; 24(6): 471-476.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.