Tag Archives: all-or-nothing thinking

Dichotomous reasoning

Dichotomous reasoning (or all-or-nothing thinking) can be defined as a general cognitive distortion which leads the subject to consider a given reference class only according to the two extreme taxa which relate to every pole of a given duality. With this type of reasoning, the subject ignores completely the presence of degrees or of intermediate steps. In his/her system of taxa, the subject has as well the two extreme taxa corresponding to poles A and Ā. The defect in that way of considering things is that facts or objects corresponding to intermediary taxa are not taken into account. So it results from it a reasoning without nuances nor gradation, which proves to be maladapted to properly apprehend the diversity of human situations. Formally, dichotomous reasoning consists in taking into account only the elements of the reference class such as|d[Ei]| = 1, ord[E1] = 1 ord[E11] = -1, by ignoring all the others.


Franceschi P., Compléments pour une théorie des distorsions cognitives (in english), Journal de Thérapie Comportementale et Cognitive, 2007, 17, 2, 84-88.


Ambiguous images Arbitrary focus Bistable perception Complementarity relationship Conflict resolution Conflict resolution with matrices of concepts Conflict types relating to matrices of concepts Contrary relationship Dialectical contextualism Dialectical monism Dialectical monism in Aztec philosophy Dialectical monism in Heraclitus Dichotomic analysis Dichotomic analysis applied to paradox resolution Dichotomous reasoning Disqualification of one pole Disqualification of the positive Dualities Dual poles Extreme opposition General cognitive distortions Instance of one-sidedness bias Matrix of concepts Maximization Mental filter Minimization Bistable cognition Omission of the neutral One-sidedness bias One-sided viewpoint Opposition relationship Principle of dialectical indifference Requalification into the other pole Reference class Reference class problem Reference class problem in philosophical paradoxes Reference class problem in the Doomsday argument Reference class problem in Hempel’s paradox Reference class problem in the surprise examination paradox Selective abstraction Specific cognitive distortions System of taxa Two-sided viewpoint Viewpoint of a duality Viewpoint of a pole