We all move driven by expectations and, therefore, are condemned to make mistakes in judgment. You will certainly have thought that something would have happened in a certain way or that you would have felt a certain way and you have probably made predictions about someone’s behavior. In fact, we do it every day, at any time.
The truth is, we spend our lives making predictions about the future. Sometimes we take it for granted that things will go wrong, but without having a rational basis on which to base this certainty. In addition, anguish arises and all due to errors of judgment.
Evaluation errors are a type of cognitive distortion or a “mistake of thinking”, a “skid” that we all commit. Cognitive distortions have been well analyzed in the framework of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy, especially in rational emotional behavioral therapy. Let’s see what it is.
Rational Emotional Behavioral Therapy
Rational Emotional Behavioral Therapy (TREC) is at the forefront of many of the ideas it advocates and is a leading cognitive-behavioral therapy. The theoretical-conceptual basis of this therapy is found in cognitive psychology and behaviorism.
It is a psychological school made up of several authors who share the use of the scientific method and some basic principles. Some of these principles are as follows:
- Individuals respond to cognitive representations (interpretations, perceptions and evaluations) of the facts concerning the environment around them).
- Dysfunctional cognition (erroneous thinking) mediates between emotional and behavioral disturbance.
- Cognitive change produces emotional and behavioral changes.
- Cognitions or thoughts can be evaluated and recorded.
The term cognitive-behavioral is very generic and refers to therapies that integrate both cognitive and behavioral ones. They have a demonstrable empirical basis and require active patient participation.
As we said, misjudgments are a form of cognitive distortion described by rational emotional behavioral therapy. There are, however, other cognitive distortions, but in this article we will focus on it. According to the TREC, when we enact these cognitive distortions, we are avoiding facing reality. As a result, we may come to feel anxious or sad.
The errors of evaluation according to David Burns
Psychologist David Burns includes misjudgment within another broader category of cognitive distortion: hasty conclusions. According to Burns, hasty conclusions occur when we come to conclusions that don’t necessarily stem from facts. These conclusions take shape because of our brain’s tendency to save energy when processing information or because we are in a hurry to obtain it.
Two examples of hasty conclusions are mind-reading and prediction error. David Burns defines the forecast error as follows:
“It is as if we are faced with a crystal ball that predicts only sadness. Imagine that something bad is about to happen and assume that prediction as a fact (even if it wasn’t). Imagine, for example, that secondary school librarian repeating to herself during a panic attack: I’m going to faint or I’m “going crazy”.
These predictions did not turn out to be so realistic, because the woman never fainted or went “crazy”. He did not have even any severe symptoms that could suggest an imminent and absolute loss of control.
During a psychotherapy session, a doctor suffering from acute depression explained to me why he was about to leave his profession: – I realize that I will be depressed for life. My pain will continue, over and over, and I am absolutely certain that this treatment or any other therapy is doomed to fail.
This negative prediction about his prognosis made him feel hopeless. The improvement in his symptoms shortly after starting therapy was proof of how wrong his prophecy was ”.
We are not seers, so why rush to conclusions?
All of us happened to draw hasty conclusions to answer what was asked of us or because we ran out of patience … and then we realized the mistake. Imagine you are calling a friend who does not return the call after some time.
This fact makes you feel sad when you tell yourself that your friend probably received your call but showed no interest in calling you back. What is the cognitive distortion you are committing? The answer is this: read the thoughts of others.
Feeling sad, you decide not to call him back and not to investigate what happened. Tell yourself, “he’ll think I’m nagging if I call him again. I will make a fool of myself ”. Because of these negative predictions (misjudgment), you will avoid your friend and feel humiliated.
Three weeks later you will find that your friend did not get the call. The result is that all that trouble has never existed except in your head. You have drawn conclusions that had no foundation, from which in turn you have drawn other even less truthful conclusions.
As we have just seen, misjudgment consists in drawing hasty conclusions about something without any solid evidence to support them. When we do this, we are victims of a distortion of thought that is sure to make us suffer.