What Is Cognitive Rigidity in Psychology?


Diego Sanchez

In psychology, cognitive rigidity refers to the inability of an individual to adapt their thoughts and behaviors in response to changing situations. It can be described as a fixed or inflexible mindset, where an individual is unable to shift their perspective or consider alternative options.

Causes of Cognitive Rigidity:

Cognitive rigidity can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Previous experiences: If an individual has had negative experiences in the past, they may be hesitant to try new things or change their behavior.
  • Cultural and social norms: Cultural and social norms can influence an individual’s beliefs and values, making it difficult for them to consider alternative options.
  • Anxiety: Anxiety can cause an individual to become fixated on a particular outcome or way of thinking, leading to cognitive rigidity.

Effects of Cognitive Rigidity:

Cognitive rigidity can have several negative effects on an individual’s life, such as:

  • Limited problem-solving abilities: Individuals with cognitive rigidity may struggle to come up with creative solutions to problems.
  • Difficulty adapting to change: In a constantly changing world, individuals with cognitive rigidity may struggle to adapt and keep up with new trends or technologies.
  • Poor decision-making skills: An inflexible mindset can prevent individuals from considering all available options before making a decision.

How to Overcome Cognitive Rigidity:

While cognitive rigidity can be challenging to overcome, there are several strategies that individuals can use:

  • Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness practices such as meditation and deep breathing exercises can help individuals become more aware of their thoughts and emotions.
  • Try new things: Engaging in new activities or hobbies can help individuals break out of their fixed mindset and become more open to change.
  • Challenge your assumptions: Questioning your own beliefs and assumptions can help you consider alternative perspectives and become more adaptable.
  • Seek feedback from others: Asking for feedback from others can provide valuable insight into how your actions and behaviors are perceived by those around you, helping you identify areas where you may be rigid.


Cognitive rigidity is a common psychological phenomenon that can have several negative effects on an individual’s life. By practicing mindfulness, trying new things, challenging assumptions, and seeking feedback from others, individuals can work to overcome cognitive rigidity and become more adaptable in their thinking and behavior.