Arbitrary inference is a classic tenet of cognitive therapy created by Aaron T. Beck in 1979. He defines the act of making an arbitrary inference as the process of drawing a conclusion without sufficient evidence, or without any evidence at all. In cases of depression, Beck found that individuals may be more prone to cognitive distortions, and make arbitrary inferences more often. These inferences could be general and or in reference to the effectiveness of their medicine or treatment. Arbitrary inference is one of numerous specific cognitive distortions identified by Beck that can be commonly presented in people with anxiety, depression, and psychological impairments.
One member of a married couple who does not receive a text back from his or her significant other promptly could conclude, "He or she must be cheating", or someone who has been feeling down on a rainy day could conclude, "I have seasonal depression."
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