I have come to collect you for the final stage of our journey through the wonderland that is biased information processing (also known within cognitive-behavioral therapy as thinking errors). Of course, my praise for this fascinating territory is not biased.
I must apologise for turning up late this morning. Unfortunately our coach driver – who is actually dating a coach, which makes it confusing at times – had a bit of a falling out with his partner, so I did my best to comfort him. Obviously having to come back to the Heartbreak Hotel where you’ve been for the week has not helped matters. I just hope we can get you home without either the coach (the vehicle, not the person) or the driver breaking down.
So, whither Selective Abstraction? This is an information processing bias in which attention is drawn to a negative aspect of a person or situation. It is taking a small detail and making a judgement about the whole, rather than taking account of the bigger picture. For example, I might have decorated a room (and those who begin to know me will realise that is a very big might!) and be feeling pleased with myself, when I suddenly notice that a piece of wallpaper in a top corner is not quite right. Rather than being pleased with the overall job, I become upset about the small part that is not perfect.
Now, this bears some resemblance to Minimisation and Magnification which we discussed a couple of weeks ago. My understanding of the difference between the two is that in Selective Abstraction the negative aspect is a reasonable judgement about a small part (hence the name) of the whole, perhaps leading to some upset or disappointment, whereas in Minimisation and Magnification the significance of the negative aspect is amplified to an unreasonable degree. For example, the wallpaper malfunction means I will never be able to invite people into the room, and if anyone saw it they would judge me as incompetent and would run out of the room screaming, never to return (or was that another occasion?).
It is time to drop you off at the coach station. Thankfully our driver is in better spirits now, thanks to that bottle of Metaxa we gave him. On behalf of Cognitive Behavioral Tours, I hope you have enjoyed the journey. We look forward to seeing you again at our reunion meeting next week, when we can share our memories and photos, and remind ourselves of all the places we have visited. We might even have some goody bags of salient souvenirs.