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Black And White Thinking aka All-Or-Nothing Thinking (PDF)

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Black and white thinking, also known as all-or-nothing thinking, is a cognitive distortion where an individual considers a situation a complete success or total failure. It ignores any middle ground or partial successes. Research shows that while humans can sometimes engage in this type of thinking, those who constantly engage in it tend to show more maladaptive behaviors.

The Black And White Thinking aka All-Or-Nothing Thinking handout is designed to increase a client’s awareness of this thought pattern by defining it and providing practical examples. The last part of the handout shares 8 helpful tips to overcome it, such as paying attention to their thoughts and language and noticing their triggers. 

Understanding black-and-white thinking helps kids and teens reduce feelings of anger or frustration when faced with situations they think are unfair, and avoid negative behaviors. After using the handout, they can engage in role-playing to practice ways to challenge this rigid thought pattern.

You can find this handout in our CBT Handouts Bundle, along with several other common cognitive distortions and CBT-related handouts.

*This item is an instant digital download. A link to download your files will be emailed to you once payment is confirmed.

Want more resources like this? Check out our full catalog of CBT worksheets and handouts.


  1. Bonfá-Araujo, B., Oshio, A., & Filho, N. H. (2021). Seeing Things in Black‐and‐White : A Scoping Review on Dichotomous Thinking Style 1. Japanese Psychological Research, 64(4), 461–472. https://doi.org/10.1111/jpr.12328
  2. Oshio, A., Mieda, T., & Taku, K. (2016). Younger people, and stronger effects of all-or-nothing thoughts on aggression: Moderating effects of age on the relationships between dichotomous thinking and aggression. Cogent Psychology, 3(1), 1244874. https://doi.org/10.1080/23311908.2016.1244874
  3. Su, M. R., & Shum, K. W. (2019). The moderating effect of mindfulness on the mediated relation between critical thinking and psychological distress via cognitive distortions among adolescents. Frontiers in Psychology, 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01455
  • Instant digital download
  • File: PDF
  • Size: 8.5" x 11"

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