What Is Dichotomous Thinking? | Assertiveness Basics

  • Dichotomous Thinking is a Cognitive Distortion, an automatic irrational thought.
  • It is also known as polarized, black-or-white, or all-or-nothing thinking.
  • Dichotomous Thinking means to only focus on the extremes and excludes everything that is in-between.
  • It is like the world itself is either black or white, and nuances of grey are not acknowledged.
  • Dichotomous Thinking is a type of thinking that does not support nuances.
  • This type of reasoning is flawed because the world is a place of diversity.
  • By activating black or white thinking, we miss the variety in the world around us and even within ourselves.

Examples of Dichotomous Thinking:

“People are either good or bad.”

“Students are either smart or stupid.”

“Your life is either a success or a failure.”

These views are only considering the extremes. For instance, regarding the first example, people are complex beings, and their behaviors and traits cover a wide range of implications and consequences.

How To Manage Dichotomous Thinking

Observe whether you limit your views about a certain topic to only two opposing categories or values, and try to see whether there are intermediary segments that would describe them better.