I'm trying to think of a phrase that describes someone who is in a certain situation and when an outcome out of the norm comes up then he takes the aberrant outcome and generalizes it, believing it to be the normal outcome for that and similar situations. That is, he's forming an general opinion based on that one instance.

Is there an expression which describes that in one or two words? If so, what is it?

  • 1
    ???------------ Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 6:02
  • That sounds like some sort of bias. Could it be as simple as pessimism vs. optimism? Like betting on horses; you can lose 10 ten times in a row and then win once, and now you are full of confidence for the next race when in fact you should really expect to lose again.
    – Frank
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 8:12
  • Jumping to conclusions is the usual metaphor. Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 14:45
  • ASSUME makes an ASS out of U and ME.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 15:18
  • there's a common phrase "... you assume too much." It may help depending on what you're up to.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 15:19

5 Answers 5


If I have understood the question correctly (I edited it to make it a bit more clearly about what I think you're asking for), then you are describing generalising from the particular or a hasty generalisation or maybe even jumping to a conclusion.

Wikipedia has

Hasty generalization is an informal fallacy of faulty generalization by reaching an inductive generalization based on insufficient evidence—essentially making a hasty conclusion without considering all of the variables. In statistics, it may involve basing broad conclusions regarding the statistics of a survey from a small sample group that fails to sufficiently represent an entire population. Its opposite fallacy is called slothful induction, or denying a reasonable conclusion of an inductive argument (e.g. "it was just a coincidence").

  • good one, "generalising" is the key here.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 15:19

Anecdotal, any conclusion based on little evidence or nonscientific studies.

Merriam-Webster defines it as ... based on or consisting of reports or observations of usually unscientific observers.

"Anecdotal evidence."
"Health benefits may be more anecdotal than factual."

  • Hello, Paul. Anecdotal evidence lacks reasonable supporting evidence, but may be true. OP asks about a situation where a definite anomaly is treated as nornative. Commented Jul 11 at 15:22
  • Wikipedia has a page on anecdotal evidence, which seems match Edwin Ashworth's objection that it's not quite the right thing: "based only on personal observation, collected in a casual or non-systematic manner".
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jul 11 at 15:34

I guess Surmiser could be an alternative in your case. It is actually noun for Surmise which means that to infer something with not much of evidence to prove it.

  • im looking for a phrase that describes that kind of thinking. not necessarily a conclusion based phrase but more of a taking one situation and exaggerating it to mean that all other tests of the same experiment outcomes didnt matter.
    – user86680
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 15:41

You may be referring to an inconsistent conclusion:

  • Not regular or predictable; erratic: inconsistent behavior.
  • Lacking in correct logical relation; contradictory: inconsistent statements.

Suorce: Collins English Dictionary


The term that describes forming a general conclusion from something aberrant is "Hasty Generalization." It refers to drawing a broad conclusion based on a limited or atypical sample. In this situation, someone is making a sweeping generalization or assumption based on a single instance or a few atypical examples, which may not be representative of the overall situation or norm. It's a type of logical fallacy where an individual jumps to a conclusion without sufficient evidence or a representative sample.

  • 1
    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Jul 11 at 14:09
  • 1
    You're copying what was posted in 2014. This doesn't add anything new.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jul 11 at 15:35

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