Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Quick Quiz: Cognitive Distortions

Here's a quick quiz from the world of cognitive behavioral therapy. It's a list of fifteen common cognitive distortions taken from PsychCentral. (Some lists have fewer--ten is typical--others may have more.) Can you name the cognitive distortion for each definition or example?

If you're stumped, we've included an alphabetical list at the bottom of the post, which turns this into a matching game.

Don't expect to get all 15. If you can get just a handful of them right, walk tall!

Here are those (edited) definitions and examples:

1. _______________.
Ex: A person may pick out a single, unpleasant detail and dwell on it exclusively so that their vision of reality becomes darkened or distorted.

2. _______________.
Ex: You place people or situations in “either/or” categories, with no shades of gray or allowing for the complexity of most people and situations. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.

3. _______________.
Coming to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence. If something bad happens only once, we expect it to happen over and over again. A person may see a single, unpleasant event as part of a never-ending pattern of defeat.

4. _______________.
We assume we know what they are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, we are able to determine how people are feeling toward us. For example, a person may conclude that someone is reacting negatively toward them but doesn’t actually bother to find out if they are correct. Another example is a person may anticipate that things will turn out badly, and will feel convinced that their prediction is already an established fact.

5. _______________.
We expect disaster to strike, no matter what. Ex: We hear about a problem and use what if questions (e.g., “What if tragedy strikes?” “What if it happens to me?”).

6. _______________.
Believing that what others do or say is in response to us. We also compare ourselves to others trying to determine who is smarter, better looking, etc. An semi-extreme example, “We were late to the dinner party and caused the hostess to overcook the meal. If I had only pushed my husband to leave on time, this wouldn’t have happened.”

7. _______________.
This distortion has us assuming responsibility for the pain and happiness of everyone around us. For example, “Why aren’t you happy? Is it because of something I did?”

8. _______________.
We feel resentful because we think we know what is fair, but other people won’t agree with us. With this distortion, we apply a measuring ruler against many situations judging its “fairness.” .

9. _______________.
We hold other people responsible for our pain. For example, “Stop making me feel bad about myself!” 

10. _______________.
We have a list of ironclad rules about how people are supposed to behave--especially ourselves.

11. _______________.
We believe that what we feel must be true automatically. If we feel stupid and boring, then we must be stupid and boring — “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”

12. _______________.
We expect that other people will alter their behavior to suit us if we just pressure or cajole them enough. We need to alter others because our hopes for happiness seem to depend entirely on them.

13. _______________.
Instead of describing an error in context of a specific situation, a person will attach an unhealthy descriptor to themselves. For example, they may say, “I’m a loser” in a situation where they failed at a specific task. 

14. _______________.
We are continually on trial to prove that our opinions and actions are correct. Being right often is more important than the feelings of others around a person who engages in this cognitive distortion, even loved ones.

15. _______________.
We expect our sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if someone is keeping score. We are bitter when the reward doesn’t come.

These are probably not at your fingertips--why would they be? Even CBT therapists will disagree on some of this terminology.  So, here's the complete list (not in order) to match with the above definitions:

Always Being Right.
Control Fallacies.
Emotional Reasoning.
Fallacy of Change.
Fallacy of Fairness.
Global Labeling (or just "Labeling").
Heaven’s Reward Fallacy.
Jumping to Conclusions (or "Mind Reading")--sometimes listed as separate items.
Overgeneralization. (or "Generalizing").
Polarized Thinking (or “Black and White” or "All or Nothing" thinking).
Shoulds (or "Shoulding").

How's you do? Check your answers on the original list.

These quizzes are good for brushing up, but nothing prepares you for the real exam, like exam questions in the same format as the real thing. The link takes you to SWTP--there are lots of realistic exam questions there--hundreds of them--waiting to help prep you for the big test.

However you study, enjoy. And good luck!

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