Faulty Thinking – Cognitive Distortions

What are cognitive distortionsWhat is faulty thinking or cognitive distortions? they’re ways in which our minds can deceive us, making us believe something is true when it is not.

There are many different types of cognitive distortions that our minds use. This page will cover the most common types.

Even if you suffer from any of the below mentioned forms of faulty thinking or cognitive distortions, there are ways of changing our thinking with psychotherapy.

Common Cognitive Distortions

Black and White Thinking

This is when somebody places things in either one of two categories, for example yes or no, success or failure. They cannot see the gray or the middle ground, simplifying a situation or event. The people who do this tend to judge everybody and everything in this black and white way of thinking, including themselves.

Mental Filtering

All the larger positive aspects of a situation are filtered out and then a smaller negative point is focused on. A person may focus on a single persons character flaw and completely neglect any positive personality traits.

Jumping to Conclusions

An individual may believe that somebody doesn’t like them without any evidence to support that belief. Another example would be, predicting a negative outcome without any reasoning behind that prediction.


This faulty way of thinking is when a person attributes the cause of an event to themselves even when they had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Someone may also interpret general comments and perceive them as direct comments to them.

Catastrophizing or Magnification

This distortion results in a person making a small problem or mistake seem much larger or much more important than it really is, this can also be reversed.

This can also relate to character traits, someone may magnify or minimize these traits.


Labeling is just generalizing on a big scale, a person may attach labels to themselves or other people. These labels will be created by just one or two negative outcomes or situations and then a negative label will be assigned to either themselves or somebody else. An example label somebody might assign is “I’m a loser”.

We also have Mislabelling, mislabelling is a way of twisting the truth in a way that makes something or someone appear negative. For example if somebody wishes to spend some time alone, they maybe mislabelled as being lonely or having no one to spend time with.

Fallacy of Change

This is expecting people to conform to what we want if we just faulty thinkingpressure them enough, plus assigning a lot of importance into getting that person to change.


Blaming somebody else for something bad that happens or negative emotions. These people tend not to take any responsibility for any of the bad in their life.

Emotional Reasoning

This is mistaking emotions for reality, feelings and facts are considered to be the same. If I can feel it, it has to be true.

Should Statements

These people stick to a rigid set of rules that they create themselves. They believe themselves and other people should or shouldn’t do something. If these rules are broken it often results in feelings of anger, guilt or frustration either directed inward or outward.


If a negative outcome happened once a person will expect that same negative outcome to happen again and again.


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