Overgeneralizations are a sort of logical fallacies, which are failures of reasoning. So, that’s what overgeneralizations are, failures of reasoning.

More specifically, we might define them as when authors make claims that are so broad that they cannot be proven or disproved.

When authors use an overgeneralization, they usually want to accomplish one (1) or two (2) motives. The first motive is the creation of an allusion of their authority. Authors may do so to make it look like they’re having authority, whereas, in fact, they don’t have that.

Their second motive could be to sway the reader’s opinion. They may accomplish this by using broad, sensational language.

So, when an author writes a persuasive essay, she or he can utilize overgeneralization for swaying the reader’s opinion.

So let’s look at an example of overgeneralization here:

The whole world knows he’s is a terrible teacher.”

Here, our author is making an assumption that’s pretty hard to be believed. Sure, it could well be that a lot of people indeed have a pretty negative view of that teacher.
To say, though, that the whole world is feeling that way, is surely an exaggeration. In our example, the author claims consensus when there is actually none.

When readers spot overgeneralizations like the one above, they should get skeptical about the author’s argument because authors often try to hide unsupported or weak assertions behind some sort of authoritative language.

Video Summary and Quiz

1. Which of the following are overgeneralizations?

Question 1 of 2

2. Which sentence is the example of overgeneralization?

1. Red roses cannot survive long winters, because in my garden two red roses died over a long winter.

2. The red rose has been associated with love and passion for thousands of years. In Greek and Roman mythology, roses are often linked to Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love.

Question 2 of 2


Next Lesson: Deductive and Inductive Reasoning


Last Updated on April 8, 2021.

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