Affective Fallacy

Definition of Affective Fallacy

In simple terms, affective fallacy is when you decide something is good or bad based on how it makes you feel, not on real facts or solid reasons. For example, just because you feel happy when you eat ice cream doesn’t mean it’s good for your health. To look at this fallacy in another way, it’s like thinking a book is the best one ever just because it made you cry, even if the writing itself isn’t that great.

Back in 1949, a guy named Wimsett wrote about this concept. He said it’s wrong to think that just because a piece of writing makes you feel all kinds of emotions, it must be excellent. The problem is, what makes one person excited might make another person bored. So, you can’t really say something is good or bad just because of how people feel about it.

Examples of Affective Fallacy

  • Example in Literature

    A lot of folks enjoy watching the show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix. It’s about a woman, Marie Kondo, who helps people clean and organize their homes. Viewers get all excited and ready to organize their own stuff after watching her. If you talk to someone right after they watch the show, they might say getting rid of clutter is the best idea ever. But if you ask them a few months later, they might not think it’s as important anymore. See, their feelings at the time made them believe in the value of decluttering, but those feelings changed. This is a classic example of affective fallacy because the person’s judgement about the show’s message changed based on their emotions rather than facts.

How to Avoid an Affective Fallacy

Everyone has their own opinions and feelings that can get in the way of seeing things clearly. When you hear or read an argument, you have to try hard to not let your feelings take over. Instead, really look at the facts and the logic behind it. If your tummy does flips because of an argument, take a step back. Ask yourself, “Am I feeling this way because of the truth, or just because it hits me in the feels?” Remember, real arguments stand on solid facts, not just how they make us feel.

Related Topics

When talking about affective fallacy, there are a few related ideas that you might find interesting. Here are a couple:

  • Pathetic Fallacy

    This is when writers give nature human emotions. Like when a book says “angry storm clouds” as if the clouds can actually feel mad. It’s not the same as affective fallacy, but it is about emotions and how they’re used in writing.

  • Emotional Appeal

    In ads or speeches, sometimes people try to get you to agree by making you feel certain emotions. They might want you to feel scared or super happy, so you’ll buy something or agree with their ideas. It’s different from affective fallacy because it’s about using emotions on purpose, while affective fallacy is about how people accidentally let their feelings decide.


To wrap it all up, affective fallacy is a tricky thing where our feelings mess with our ability to judge stuff fairly. It suggests that something is good or bad because of how it makes us feel right now, not because of the actual facts or the quality of the argument. Remember the Marie Kondo example, where people’s opinions on cleaning up changed with their mood. To steer clear of this fallacy, we have to focus on the facts and think critically, not just go with our gut. And just like other fallacies, knowing more about it helps us understand how we think and make decisions. So next time you feel super strong about something, take a pause and ask, “Is this really good, or does it just feel good?” That way, you’ll make choices based on what’s solid and true.