Cognitive Errors


thanks to G, for sharing this along with her guest post on mental health tips.

  1. MIND READING Mindreading occurs when you assume that another person is thinking negatively about you and there is no logical reason to make such an assumption. For example, you are having coffee with a friend and arbitrarily assume her silence means she is upset with you (ex: “She is thinking something negative about me”).
  2. CATASTROPHIZING Catastrophizing occurs when you make negative predictions (i.e., catastrophic predictions) about the future without much evidence for these predictions (ex: “If I go to this party, people will see that I look uncomfortable and awkward and they will not want to hang out with me again. I will never make any friends.”)

  3. ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING All-or-nothing thinking occurs when you evaluate situations, events, or relationships as being “either-or.” You see things as often being black-or-white, with no shades of grey. For example, when Ted leaves a party and thinks he hasn’t made a large, positive impression with people, he tells himself “That was a complete failure of a time.” For Ted, you are either admired or unimportant – there is no in-between.
  4. EMOTIONAL REASONING Emotional reasoning occurs when you believe something to be true because it “feels” that way. You might know logically that you have not been rejected, but it feels like you were rejected – therefore, you assume you have been. For example, Maria knows that her friends did not invite her to go to the museum because she hates museums. But she feels rejected and this plays the largest role in her emotional reaction of sadness.
  5. LABELING Labeling occurs when you label yourself as being a certain kind of person. It usually occurs after something bad happens. For example, after making a small gaffe on a date, Ian calls himself an “idiot.” People sometimes do this in a humorous manner, which is typically fine. However, if you notice that you often beat yourself up over things, and it is really out of proportion to the mistake, then it is a thinking habit that should change.

  6. MENTAL FILTER Whenever you receive positive and negative information, if you only focus on the negative information, it is called mental filtering. For example, Greg’s girlfriend recently told him that although his jokes can be a bit aggressive, he is overall a very funny guy, and that she loves his sense of humour. Afterwards, Greg is only able to think about the mild criticism he received.

  7. OVERGENERALIZATION Overgeneralization occurs when a negative event happens and you assume that more bad things are going to happen. You perceive the negative event as the start of a pattern. For example, after two unsuccessful relationships, Lisa believes that all future relationships are pointless, and she ends up feeling hopeless.

  8. PERSONALIZATION Personalization occurs when you take responsibility for negative events, even though you are not at fault. In other words, you take a negative event and assume you are the cause of it. For example, Bob’s wife has been feeling stressed and depressed recently because her mother died and she has been struggling to adjust to a new job. However, Bob feels guilty because he thinks “I should be doing more for her during this tough period.”
  9. SHOULD STATEMENTS Whenever you think that things should or must be a certain way, it is considered should thinking, which is similar to perfectionism. For example, Shelly hates her appearance because her nose is slightly too big for her liking. She thinks “In order for me to be considered attractive, all features of my face should be relatively flawless.” This is obviously faulty thinking.

  10. MINIMIZING OR DISQUALIFYING THE POSITIVE Whenever you ignore the positive things that happen to you, it is called minimizing or disqualifying the positive. For example, imagine that for most of your life you make friends easily and get positive feedback from others about qualities that are likeable. Then, a co-worker admits to not liking you as a person. If you start believing you are unlikeable, then you are clearly disqualifying a large proportion of information that says you are likeable.


Source: Covin, Dr. Roger. The Need To Be Liked (pp. 100-102). Amazon. Kindle Edition.

About CK

i sleep, i wake, i write chitra[dot]kalyani[at]gmail[dot]com
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1 Response to Cognitive Errors

  1. Pingback: Guest Post by G: Mental health tips | Chitra Kalyani

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