Maslow's Hammer

Maslow's Hammer

What is it?

Maslow's Hammer, also known as the Law of the Instrument, is a cognitive bias that occurs when an individual over-reliance on a familiar tool or approach leads them to view every problem through the lens of that tool.

In layman's terms, Maslow's Hammer is a tendency for people to use a familiar tool or solution for every problem, even when it's not the best fit. It's like trying to use a hammer for every household task just because it's your favorite tool. It is based on the saying, "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail," which is attributed to psychologist Abraham Maslow.

For example:

  1. Imagine you're great at using a hammer and nails, so when you need to hang a picture on the wall, you automatically grab your hammer and some nails. However, using a picture hook and a small nail would have been a better choice to avoid damaging the wall too much.

  2. You're an expert at using spreadsheets to organize information. When you need to manage a list of contacts, you create a complex spreadsheet, even though a simple address book app might be more efficient and user-friendly.

  3. You've just learned about a new diet that helped you lose weight. Now, you recommend it to everyone you know, regardless of their individual health needs and goals, because it worked for you.

In all these examples, the person is using their "hammer" (a familiar tool or solution) for every problem, ins ...