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March 26, 2016
Table of Contents

1 Introduction



Exaggeration is a representation of something in an excessive manner. Words or expressions associated with exaggeration include:

Contexts of exaggeration include:

  1. boasting and bragging by arrogant or manipulative people.
  2. inflated praise in the form of flattery and puffery.
  3. a type of deception .
  4. amplifying achievements, obstacles and problems to seek attention .
  5. magnifying small injuries or discomforts as an excuse to avoid responsibilities .
  6. a form of cognitive distortion called magnification .
  7. overemphasizing one issue and downplaying ( minimizing ) the other to divert attention from it ??? see also Spin .
  8. inflation of the difficulty of achieving a goal after attaining it, possibly to improve self-esteem.
  9. a grandiose sense of self-importance observed in narcissists .
  10. "self-dramatization, theatricality, and exaggerated expression of emotion" observed in those with those with histrionic personality disorder and other Cluster B personality disorders .
  11. associated with depressive, neurotic or paranoid behavior ??? focusing on the worst possible outcome, however unlikely, or thinking that a situation is unbearable or impossible when it is really just uncomfortable.
  12. observed in abusers or manipulators to amplify or fabricate faults of the victim as a component of victim blaming - see also Hypercriticism.

A caricature can refer to a portrait that exaggerates or distorts the essence of a person or thing to create an easily identifiable visual likeness. In literature, a caricature is a description of a person using exaggeration of some characteristics and oversimplification of others.

Caricatures can be insulting or complimentary and can serve a political purpose or be drawn solely for entertainment. Caricatures of politicians are commonly used in editorial cartoons, while caricatures of movie stars are often found in entertainment magazines.

Slapstick is a type of comedy involving exaggerated physical violence and activities which exceed the boundaries of common sense. These exaggerated depictions are often found in children's cartoons, and light film comedies aimed at younger audiences.

Overacting is the exaggeration of gestures and speech when acting. It may be unintentional, particularly in the case of a bad actor, or be required for the role. For the latter, it is commonly used in comical situations or to stress the evil characteristics of a villain. Since the perception of acting quality differs between people the extent of overacting can be subjective.

Paradoxical laughter is an exaggerated expression of humor which is unwarranted by external events. It may be uncontrollable laughter which may be recognised as inappropriate by the person involved.

  • " Making a mountain out of a molehill "

  • "Blown out of proportion" or "Blown out of all proportion"

  • "The sky is falling in"

  • "World War III has broken out"

  • Hypervigilance

  • Negativity effect

  • Positivity effect

  • Superiority complex


  • Duttmann, AG; Phillips, J Philosophy of Exaggeration (Continuum Studies in Continental Philosophy) (2007)

Academic papers

  • Clayer, JR; Bookless, C; Ross, MW Neurosis and conscious symptom exaggeration: Its differentiation by the illness behaviour questionnaire Journal of Psychosomatic Research Volume 28, Issue 3, 1984, Pages 237-241

  • Demaree, HA; Schmeichel, BJ; Robinson, JL; Everhart, D. Erik Behavioural, affective, and physiological effects of negative and positive emotional exaggeration . Cognition and Emotion, Volume 18, Number 8, 2004, 1079-1097(19)

  • Masterson, J; Dunworth, R; Williams, N Extreme illness exaggeration in pediatric patients: A variant of Munchausen's by Proxy ? . American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. Vol 58(2), Apr 1988, 188-195.

  • McNicholas, F Slonims, V & Cass H Exaggeration of Symptoms or Psychiatric Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy ? Child and Adolescent Mental Health 2003 Volume 5 Issue 2, Pages 69 - 75

  • Mittenberg, W; Patton, C; Canyock, EM; Condit, DC Base rates of malingering and symptom exaggeration. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology. Vol 24(8), Dec 2002, 1094-1102.

  • Mueller, J Simplicity and spook: Terrorism and the dynamics of threat exaggeration International Studies Perspectives, 2005

  • Pieper, WJ Exaggeration, puffery, inferential beliefs and deception in advertising - 1976 - University of South Carolina.

  • Sperling, OE Exaggeration as a Defense. Psychoanal Q., 32:553-548. (1963).

  • Magnification and Minimization

  • Cognitive Distortion #6: Magnification and Minimization

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Catastrophization".

Last Modified:   2010-11-25

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