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Core Belief Magnet Metaphor

Core beliefs (schemas) are self-sustaining. They act to 'attract' confirmatory evidence and 'repel' (or distort) disconfirmatory evidence. This information handout uses a magnet metaphor to explain schema maintenance.

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Traditionally some of the most helpful ways of understanding core beliefs in CBT have been to see them as 'lenses' or 'prejudices'. Another way of illustrating the effects of core beliefs (and, implicitly, the strategies to undermine them) is to think of them as magnets with attractor and repulsor properties – they will attract evidence that is consistent with the belief, and will actively repel disconfirmatory evidence.


  • Padesky, C. (1991). Schema as self-prejudice. International Cognitive Therapy Newsletter, 6, 6-7.