Free Essay: Ditching Dichotomous Thinking

Published: 2023-03-17
Free Essay: Ditching Dichotomous Thinking
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Stereotypes Social psychology Emotional intelligence
Pages: 2
Wordcount: 431 words
4 min read

Dichotomous thinking relates to the propensity to think of things in terms of binary opposition: "black or white," "good or bad," or "all or nothing." (Oshio, 2009, p. 730). According to Oshio (2009), dichotomous thinking is practical especially when one wants to make quick decisions. The author maintains that dichotomous outcomes are applied every day in society. Dichotomous thinking is portrayed in politics, where a politician is either required to support a bill or not (Oshio, 2009). However, dichotomous thinking interferes with critical thinking. This paper mentions ways in which dichotomous thinking interferes with critical thinking.

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First, dichotomous thinking interferes with reasoning by ignoring context. Salters-Pedneault (2019) stipulates that when the problem of dichotomous thinking becomes extreme, it causes severe overreactions and emotional responses. Emotional responses such as anger make a person not to be willing to take pieces of advice from other people (Horton, 2019). This shows that people with "black or white" thinking are prone to making poor decisions.

Apart from interfering with reasoning by causing anger, there are other ways in which dichotomous thinking interferes with logic. According to Horton (2019), these ways include:

  • Envy
  • Sadness
  • Regret
  • Excitement
  • Anxiety

All these factors are common in people who are prone to dichotomous thinking, making them miserable at critical thinking.

There are examples that we can use to avoid dichotomous thinking. Such statements include, "bullies should be punished severely." When is it accurate? : When they have been lightly punished before but they persist. Where is it accurate? : it is accurate in various learning institutions. Why is it accurate? : bullying can cause injuries to other students. Bullying might also lead to truancy as the victims would be afraid to go to school. Another statement that often leads to dichotomous thinking is "smoking is a nuisance and should be banned." When is it accurate? : when smoking habits irritate non-smokers. Where is it accurate? : at public places where not everybody smokes. Why is it accurate? Non-smokers inhale the smoke passively, making them passive smokers, which could cause diseases such as lung cancer. Asking such questions makes it easier to avoid dichotomous thinking.

In conclusion, dichotomous thinking, or "black or white" thinking, should be stopped as it enables people to arrive at imperfect decisions.


Horton, A. P. (2019, May 2). This is how envy, anger, and regret affect your decisions at work. Retrieved from

Oshio, Atsushi. (2009). PDF. Chubu University, Kashigai, japan. Retrieved from

Salters-Pedneault, K. (2019, March 22). The Link Between Dichotomous Thinking and Borderline Personality. Retrieved from

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