THE PROBLEM WITH ALWAYS NEEDING TO BE RIGHT


Let’s explore the negative impact of people running the cognitive distortion of always needing to be right. This cognitive distortion, also known as the need for cognitive closure, refers to the tendency to have a strong desire for certainty and a need to be right in every situation. It can harm themselves and others, impacting their mental health and communication styles, as well as contributing to issues like anger, self-referencing, anxiety, and depression. Let’s explore specific examples and research to understand these impacts more deeply.

Firstly, the need to always be right can have a significant impact on one’s own mental health. Constantly striving to be right puts tremendous pressure on individuals, leading to heightened stress and anxiety levels. Research by Kruglanski et al. (2013) has shown that the need for cognitive closure, which is closely related to the need to be right, is associated with higher anxiety levels. The fear of being wrong or making mistakes can create a constant state of worry and self-doubt.

Additionally, the need to always be right can lead to a rigid communication style. Individuals who feel the need to be right often have difficulty listening to others’ perspectives or considering alternative viewpoints. They may engage in argumentative and defensive behaviours, dismissing or invalidating others’ opinions. This communication style can hinder effective collaboration and contribute to strained relationships. Research by Kruglanski and Webster (1996) has found that individuals with a high need for cognitive closure tend to engage in more dogmatic and close-minded communication patterns.

Furthermore, the need to always be right can intensify feelings of anger and frustration. When someone is strongly invested in being right, they may become easily angered when their views are challenged or encounter differing opinions. This can lead to conflicts and strained relationships with others. Research by Baumeister et al. (1999) has shown that the need to be right is associated with increased aggression and hostility.

Moreover, the need to always be right can lead to excessive self-referencing and self-centeredness. Individuals driven by this need often prioritise their own perspectives, dismissing or downplaying the experiences and emotions of others. This self-centeredness can isolate them from meaningful connections with others and hinder empathy and understanding. Neimeyer et al. (1997) found that individuals with a high need for cognitive closure tend to exhibit self-centred thinking and difficulty considering alternative viewpoints.

In addition, the need to always be right can contribute to feelings of chronic anxiety and depression. The constant need for certainty and the fear of being wrong can create a sense of vulnerability and inadequacy. The pressure to maintain an image of infallibility can affect mental well-being. Research by Neuberg and Newsom (1993) has shown that individuals with a high need for cognitive closure are more prone to experiencing anxiety and depressive symptoms.

It is important to note that the need always to be right can also impact the well-being of others. When individuals consistently assert their need to be right, it can create a hostile and invalidating environment for those around them. People may feel dismissed, unheard, and devalued, leading to a breakdown in communication and strained relationships.

Furthermore, the need to always be right can hinder problem-solving and collaborative efforts. Individuals driven by this need may dominate discussions in a group or team setting, shutting down alternative perspectives and creative solutions. This stifles innovation and cooperation, potentially hindering progress and growth. Research by Kruglanski et al. (2004) has demonstrated that the need for cognitive closure negatively affects group decision-making processes.

In conclusion, the need to always be right, stemming from the cognitive distortion of needing cognitive closure, has numerous negative impacts on individuals and those around them. The constant desire for certainty and the fear of being wrong can lead to heightened stress and anxiety in individuals. Their rigid communication style, characterised by a reluctance to listen and consider different viewpoints, can strain relationships and hinder effective collaboration. 

Moreover, the need to always be right can fuel anger and hostility, as individuals become easily frustrated when their views are challenged. This cognitive distortion also fosters self-centeredness, making it difficult for individuals to empathise with others or consider alternative perspectives. Consequently, it can contribute to feelings of chronic anxiety and depression, as the pressure to maintain an image of infallibility takes a toll on mental well-being.

Furthermore, the negative impact of always needing to be right extends beyond the individual, affecting the well-being of others. It creates an invalidating environment where people feel dismissed and unheard. This communication breakdown can strain relationships and create a sense of isolation. The need to be right also hampers problem-solving and collaboration, as alternative perspectives and creative solutions are disregarded. This can impede progress and hinder growth in group settings.

Research has consistently highlighted the negative consequences of the need always to be right. Studies by Kruglanski et al. (2013) and Neuberg and Newsom (1993) have found associations between the need for cognitive closure and higher anxiety and depressive symptoms. Baumeister et al. (1999) demonstrated that the need to be right is linked to increased aggression and hostility. Kruglanski and Webster (1996) observed that individuals with a high need for cognitive closure tend to engage in more close-minded and dogmatic communication patterns. Moreover, research by Neimeyer et al. (1997) has indicated that individuals driven by the need for closure exhibit self-centred thinking and difficulty considering alternative viewpoints. These findings collectively support the notion that always needing to be right adversely affects individuals’ mental health, communication style, and relationships.

In conclusion, the cognitive distortion of always needing to be right has significant negative impacts on individuals and those around them. It contributes to heightened stress, anxiety, and rigid communication patterns. It fuels anger and self-centeredness while hindering empathy and understanding. This cognitive distortion can also lead to chronic anxiety and depression, impacting individuals’ mental well-being. Furthermore, it strains relationships, creates an invalidating environment, and impedes problem-solving and collaboration. Understanding and challenging this cognitive distortion is essential for fostering healthier communication, promoting  empathy, and cultivating positive mental health.

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Belle Dev