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6 Examples of a False Dilemma

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A false dilemma is an invalid assertion that there are only limited options in a particular situation. This is typically a choice between two options that ignores other possibilities. A false dilemma is often used as an aggressive form of influencing such as propaganda. The following are illustrative examples.

Black and White

Suggesting that there are no degrees of truth. For example, "either you are a liberal or you are not." This suggests that there is only one type of liberal as opposed to a diverse set of political ideologies that don't always agree.

False Dichotomy

Suggesting that two things are mutually exclusive when they aren't. For example, "you are either with us or against us" suggests that there are only types of people: those who think and act identically and those who are enemies.

False Choice

The incorrect assertion that there are only two choices in a situation such as "saving the environment or saving jobs." This can result from a failure of imagination whereby an individual fails to see the opportunity behind an apparent problem.

Excluded Middle

The assertion that something is either true or false when there are degrees of truth between these two extremes. For example, "you either drank too much or you didn't, which is it?"

False Alternative

Misrepresenting the alternatives in a choice. For example, a popup ad with two buttons labeled "yes" and "no" that reads "Do you want to improve yourself?" This incorrectly asserts that you don't want to improve yourself because you aren't interested in an offer.

Us vs Them

Falsely claiming that the interests of two groups do not overlap. For example, an ideology that pits people against each other based on their differences.
Overview: False Dilemma
An invalid assertion that there are only limited options in a particular situation.
Related Concepts


This is the complete list of articles we have written about influencing.
Ambiguity Effect
Active Silence
Anecdotal Evidence
Agree To Disagree
Building Trust
Call To Action
Anticipating Objections
Creative Tension
Charismatic Authority
Cruel Wit
Charm Offensive
Cultural Capital
Choice Architecture
Devils Advocate
Dry Humor
Consensus Building
Expectation Setting
Constructive Criticism
Eye Contact
Heliotropic Effect
Loaded Language
Loaded Question
Door In The Face
Peak-End Rule
Plain Language
Ethos Pathos & Logos
Rhetorical Device
Social Influence
Social Perception
False Dilemma
Social Proof
Foot In The Door
Informal Authority
Weasel Words
Information Cascade
Inside Jokes
Intrinsic Reward
Logical Argument
Managing Up
Name Dropping
Paradox Of Choice
Political Capital
Red Herring
Rhetorical Question
Rule Of Three
Self Monitoring
Small Talk
Social Tension
Straw Man
Touching Base
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