Cognitive Distortions

  1. All-or-nothing (polarized) thinking
    Things are all or nothing, good or bad. Example: You have to be perfect or you're a failure. There is no middle ground.
  2. Overgeneralization/globalizing
    You come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence. It a single negative event happens once, it will always happen, again and again. Frequently involes use of the words "always" or "never." Ex: You ask someone out for a date and the person turns you down. You conclude that no one will ever want to go out with you.
  3. Selective negative focus (tunnel vision)
    You pick out the negative details in any situation and dwell on them exclusively, filtering out any positive or neutral details, concluding the whole situation is negative. Ex: You get a test back from school, with 5 out of 100 questions marked wrong, and focus only on the 5 wrong, ignoring the 95 correct.
  4. Disqualifying the positive
    You ignore data that contradicts your negative attitude, often finding quick and clever ways to discount any positive information. Ex: Someone compliments you on your appearance. You immediately disqualify the statement by saying the person has no taste.
  5. Selective abstraction
    You take a statement or event out of context, and arrive at a gross misrepresentation. Ex: Your significant other tells a humorous story about a recent misunderstanding the two of you had (while others are also sharing humorous stories), and you interpret this as a direct criticism of you.
  6. Arbitrary inference
    You jump to an arbitrary or negative conclusion that is not justified by the facts or situation. Ex: Mind reading and negative prediction/self-fufilling prophecy.
  7. Mind reading
    A type of arbitrary inference. You make an assumption about what another person is thinking, you don't check it out, and you react to your assumption. You believe you already know how another person is thinking and feeling. You want to approach your boss for a raise, but you assume he doesn't like you, so you become angry at his "unjust" evaluation of your performance.
  8. Negative prediction/self-fulfilling prophecy
    A type of arbitrary inference. You imagine something bad is about to happen, you believe the prediction to be true, and you react as if it has already occurred. This often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Ex: You want to approach your boss for a raise, but assume you won't get one anyway, so you never ask and you feel depressed because you don't believe you will ever make more money at this job.
  9. Biased explanation
    You develop an unfavorable explanation for what another person does. Ex: Your husband does not give you flowers on your anniversary, and you believe he is mean and is punishing you because you don't meet his expectation.
  10. Magnification
    You blow things out of proportion. Ex: Your partner turns down your request for sex, saying he/she is tired, and you believe he/she is having an affair and will soon leave you.
  11. Minimization
    You choose to ignore information. Ex: Your partner comes home late every night, with no explanation of where he is. You have been receiving phone calls from a person who will not speak with you or identify herself to you. You refuse to consider that he may be having an affair, telling yourself he is working late to get ahead, and the caller is a work associate.
  12. Emotional reasoning
    You accept your emotions as evidence for the way things really are. "I feel, therefore I am." Ex: You feel fearful and unsafe when you enter a room: therefore you decide the room is a dangerous place.
  13. Should statements
    You have an ironclad list of rules about how things should be, especially about how you and others should act. Ex: Your doctor is running 10 minutes late for your appointment. You believe everyone else should always be exactly on time and become very angry at his/her "lack of consideration."
  14. Labeling
    You give a person a certain label, and then treat that person as if he/she fits your description. Ex: You discover that the person next to you is mentally ill. You avoid contact, fearing this person may hurt you.
  15. Personalization
    You relate an event to yourself when there is no basis for doing so. Ex: A staff meeting is called at your work. You immediately believe it will focus on you.
  16. Fallacy of fairness
    You believe life should be fair, and you become upset when injustice occurs. Ex: Your coworker receives a promotion for a project you did most of the wor for and understood better than your coworker. You become upset, thinking you should have been recognized.
  17. Reward fallacy
    You believe you should be rewarded when you do something good or correctly.
  18. Control fallacy
    You believe you should be able to control everything that happens to and around you. Ex: You become upset when the meal you are making burns, because you had to attend to your child and didn't hear the timer go off. You expect that you should be able to control your household better.
  19. Catastrophizing./awfulizing
    You expect disaster in any situation. Ex: You go to a job interview and become distraught as you think about how you won't get hired anyway, and even if you did your boss would treat you terribly, you would lose the job, and nobody else would ever hire you again.
  20. Blaming
    You hold others responsible for your pain, or blame yourself for every problem you run into. Ex: You get a speeding ticket and you blame your child for distracting you and causing you to get caught.
Card Set
Cognitive Distortions
Cognitive distortions