Cognitive errors: thinking clearly when it could be child maltreatment

Pediatr Clin North Am. 2014 Oct;61(5):997-1005. doi: 10.1016/j.pcl.2014.06.012. Epub 2014 Jul 29.


Cognitive errors have been studied in a broad array of fields, including medicine. The more that is understood about how the human mind processes complex information, the more it becomes clear that certain situations are particularly susceptible to less than optimal outcomes because of these errors. This article explores how some of the known cognitive errors may influence the diagnosis of child abuse, resulting in both false-negative and false-positive diagnoses. Suggested remedies for these errors are offered.

Keywords: Anchoring; Child maltreatment; Cognitive errors; Confirmation bias; Implicit biases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse / diagnosis*
  • Cognition*
  • Decision Making
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Errors*
  • Humans
  • Physicians