Cognitive Distortions

Do you ever notice a thought you have is “off” but you can’t put your finger on it? It might be a cognitive distortion! A cognitive distortion is an unhelpful thought which gives you a skewed, inaccurate view of reality. They tend to be irrational or exaggerated.

Cognitive distortions are categorized below into four broad categories: filtering, filling in the gaps, bias to act, and memory. To drill in deeper to these ideas, click “show/hide distortions” and check out the 100+ cognitive distortions within the groups. Each specific distortion links to its Wikipedia page.

Filling in the Gaps

To deal with not having enough information, what shortcuts does the mind take?

Bias to Act

To keep us from deliberating too long, what shortcuts does the mind take?

Bias to what's in front of us

To stay focused, we favor the immediate, relatable thing in front of us

Bias for Status Quo

To avoid mistakes, we tend to preserve our autonomy and group status, and avoid irreversible decisions.
Many of these were popularized in David Burns' book "Feeling Good." More recently, Buster Benson did a great job categorizing them. On this page, Casey Watts has taken that work a step farther to make it an easier-to-navigate reference.