Cognitive Error: Magnification
Magnification is an example of a cognitive distortion or thinking error. It’s also called “catastrophisation” and it can sabotage our brain.
Thinking in a magnifying manner is when we exaggerate the importance of negative events and we make things out to be a lot worse than they should be. The opposite is to minimise or downplay the importance of positive events.
Magnification is when you make one small mistake but it becomes so huge in your mind that it spoils everything else in your day. This is also called ‘blowing things out of proportion’, or ‘making mountains out of molehills’ and it’s when you exaggerate the importance of your errors, fears, and imperfections.
When we indulge in the habit of catastrophising, we always make problems larger than life, which makes them incredibly difficult to overcome.
As teachers, we can magnify errors that we make and that really isn’t good for teaching wellbeing. But pupils are pretty good at doing this too which is why we need to teach them what magnification is.
When we think catastrophically we are unable to see any other outcome other than the worse one, however unlikely this result may turn out to be. When we catastrophise then we expect disaster to strike, no matter what.
Magnification is a thinking trap that can get in the way of happiness because it is a failure to look properly at the evidence that is present. We can teach children to see things for what they are and take a wider look at the full range of evidence so they can have a better view of what really happened.
Pupils need to see that test result as an insignificant event in the grand scheme of things.
To combat this way of thinking we need to be mindful of the vocabulary we use to describe undesired outcomes and really .question whether things are truly as bad as we make them out to be.