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7 Examples of a Golden Hammer

Golden hammer is a bias whereby a society, organization or individual uses a familiar tool to solve all problems. This is popularly phrased as "if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." This can be extremely inefficient, irrational and failure prone as it is unlikely a single tool can solve all problems. The following are illustrative examples of a golden hammer.

Social Constructionism

Social constructionism is the use of social sciences to explain a great number of subjects. For example, using feminist theory to explain a scientific topic.

Marketing Myopia

Marketing myopia is an approach to business that involves continually optimizing the same product or service while ignoring greater competitive threats. For example, an energy company that seeks to dramatically boost fossil fuel production when there are clear signs that demand is about to decline and the industry will soon be replaced with renewable energy sources. In other words, a company that views itself as an "Oil Company" as opposed to an "Energy Company."

Failure Is Not An Option

Continuing to use the same tool despite clear evidence that your efforts are failing. For example, Japan's response to its economic decline beginning in 1991 that involved large scale spending on infrastructure. This failed to produce significant and sustainable growth but continues to this day despite a declining population, signs of an infrastructure glut and an unusually large government debt.


The use of medical intervention such as medication to solve perceived problems that are arguably problems of behavior, outlook or lifestyle. For example, the excessive use of cosmetic surgery to "improve self-esteem."


Panacea a term for a medical solution that is incorrectly viewed as a universal cure. For example, a particular vitamin that is overpromoted as solving a great number of health problems.

Magic Technology

The assumption that technology is required to solve a problem that could easily be solved without technology. For example, using a fleet of drones to follow citizens of a city around to rebuke them with loudspeakers for poor manners when this problem could be solved with shared norms.

Technology Proliferation

A tendency for managers and developers to have a favorite technology that they bring in for a project when an organization already has similar technologies. For this reason, it is common for a large organization to use thousands of different technology products when essential complexity might call for a dozen or less.
Overview: Golden Hammer
A bias whereby a society, organization or individual uses a familiar tool to solve all problems.
Also Known As
Law of the instrument
Law of the hammer
Maslow's hammer
Related Concepts

Cognitive Biases

This is the complete list of articles we have written about cognitive biases.
Ambiguity Effect
Backfire Effect
Base Rate
Circular Reasoning
Cognitive Bias
Cognitive Dissonance
Complexity Bias
Crab Mentality
Creeping Normality
Curse Of Knowledge
Decoy Effect
Exposure Effect
False Analogy
False Hope
Fear Of Youth
Gambler's Fallacy
Golden Hammer
Halo Effect
Hindsight Bias
Negativity Bias
Optimism Bias
Peak-End Rule
Positive Bias
Sour Grapes
Survivorship Bias
Us vs Them
Victim Mentality
Wishful Thinking
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New York Times, "Japan’s Big-Works Stimulus Is Lesson", Martin Fackler, Feb. 5, 2009.

Cognitive Biases

A list of common cognitive biases explained.


A list of approaches for establishing facts.


The definition of hubris with examples.


The definition of schadenfreude with examples.

Human Condition

The definition of the human condition with examples.

Political Polarization

The definition of political polarization with a list of its basic characteristics.


The definition of subjectivity with examples.


The definition of ethnocentrism with examples.

Crab Mentality

The definition of crab mentality with examples.

Unmanaged Risk

A few examples of unmanaged risks.

Failure Is Not An Option

The two meanings of failure is not an option.

Failure Of Imagination

An overview of failure of imagination.

Pyrrhic Victory

The definition of pyrrhic victory with examples.

Learning From Mistakes

A list of the common ways to learn from mistakes.

Strategy Examples

A list of common strategies with examples.

Failure To Recognize Failure

An overview of failure to recognize failure with examples.
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