Cognitive Distortions and Fluency Examples

A list of the most common cognitive distortions is presented below (Burns, 1989) with examples related to fluency disorders:

Cognitive Distortion


Fluency Example

All-or-Nothing Thinking/Polarized Thinking

There is no middle ground with this black or white thinking

” I will never be fluent.”


Forming a conclusion based on a single piece of evidence.

“I was anxious about saying my name on the first day of school. I am going to anxious about talking in school all the time.” 

Mental Filtering

Amplifies negative details and filters out positives

”I had a long block during one of my interview questions. I’ll never be able to answer any interview questions without stuttering.”

Disqualifying the Positive


Regarding positive events as a fluke.

“Yes, that presentation went well, but it won’t happen again.”  

Jumping to Conclusions - Mind Reading


Someone guesses what someone else is thinking.

“They are not interested in what I have to say.”

Jumping to Conclusions - Fortune Telling.

Someone thinks that a negative consequence is inevitable.

“I am always going to be upset about the way I talk.”

Magnification (Catastrophizing) or Minimization


Having a expectation that something bad is going to happen. Can also be minimize the significance of an event or someone else’s behavior.

“No one is going to listen to me because of my stuttering.”

Emotional Reasoning

Feelings and emotions block rational and logical thinking.

“I feel so foolish when I stutter, therefore I am foolish.”

Should Statements


Someone feels that there are rules about how they and others should behave.

“I should always be able to talk fluently on the phone and when I read.”  

Labeling and Mislabeling

Someone describes a mistake or overgeneralizes in an emotional way.

“She’s totally insensitive. She knows I stutter and still asked me questions.”


Someone believes that they are responsible for events that are not within their control.

“It’s all my fault that the meeting ran on so long.”

Control Fallacies

Someone feels either a victim of fate (externally controlled) or thinks they are responsible for the feelings of others (internally controlled).

“I am sorry my stuttering makes you uncomfortable.”

Fallacy of Fairness

Someone may feel upset or hopeless when they have experiences that don’t seem fair.

“Why do have to participate in class when I will just stutter.”

Fallacy of Change


An expectation that others will change if they exert enough pressure.

“If you didn’t look at me that way, I’d never stutter.”

Always Being Right

A need to be right about themselves and other people.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about. I know that technique won’t help me.”

Heaven’s Reward Fallacy

A feeling that there will be an ultimate reward for sacrifice,

“If I work hard to hide my stuttering, no one will ever make fun of me.” 

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