Biased expectations worksheet

What is the theory behind the worksheet?

This worksheet is based on the REBT approach, meant to help clients identify irrational and negative thoughts that are often the source of their problems (Turner, 2016).

How will this worksheet help

The following worksheet will help you identify and explore the irrational and negative beliefs that lead you to unhealthy and biased expectations? Additionally, it will provide you guidance in challenging them, in order to make them more flexible and manageable.

How to use the worksheet

Sometimes, when we experience stressful situations, our core beliefs activate, resulting in negative thoughts about how things will definitely turn out in a bad way. We call this phenomenon “biased expectations”. We tend to overestimate the likelihood that bad things will happen, exaggerate how bad things will be, underestimate our ability to deal with said bad things and ignore the factors that suggest that things will not turn out as bad as we are expecting. This inevitably leads to feeling anxious and doubtful about our own abilities (Buschmann et al., 2017).

The following thought behavior is meant to help you challenge your biased expectations. Use the provided example to familiarize yourself with the diary’s structure and then use it to manage your own biased expectations.

 Biased expectations worksheet

What is the stressful situation?Classmates asked me to do a group project with them. How much do I believe it will happen (0-100%)?75% 
What emotion(s) am I feeling? (Rate intensity 0-100%)  anxious (70%)
What am I expecting? What am I predicting and what conclusions am I jumping to?I will be no good and only make them get a bad grade. Everyone will see how dumb I am when we present it and my group will hate me.
What is the evidence for my expectations?There are times when I don’t know how to answer questions in class, even about a subject I like. Sometimes I stutter or talk too fast. Some classmates laughed at me because of that.What is the evidence against my expectations?I was able to present group projects before. There were times when I didn’t stutter and I was able to keep a conversation going about a topic in class.
How likely is it that what I am expecting will actually happen? (0-100%) 40%
What is the worst that could happen?I stutter, and my whole class will start laughing and stop paying attention to our projects, and we get a bad grade.What is the best that could happen?We do the presentation with me not stuttering most of the time, and my classmates don’t lose interest in our project.
What is the most likely thing that will happen?I will be able to talk with little to no stuttering, and we will get a good grade.How does it affect me when I expect the worst?Expecting the worst makes me even more nervous than in normal situations, and I tend to refuse teamwork even though I want to do it.
If the worst does happen, what could I do to cope?If I couldn’t stop stuttering, one of my group members could talk about my part and let the teacher know that I did my part. If I do a good job with the project, my classmates won’t think I slacked off and will forget about the incident in a few weeks.
How else could I view the situation?It’s just a group presentation, not a whole speech. I only have to speak a bit about my part. I know the theme pretty well, and it’s not like I always stutter. And I’m not the only one in class who sometimes stutters, but people are nice to them.
Are there any positives in me or the situation that I am ignoring?It’s a team effort. If we get a bad grade, it’s not only a person’s fault. I am good at researching for school projects, so our teacher might be impressed by our work.
What’s a more realistic expectation?I don’t have to be perfect at the presentation. I just have to make myself understood and show how much we worked on it. It is likely that I will be a bit nervous at first, even stutter a bit, but after I will keep talking, I will get into why I like our project’s theme so much. How I do on one group project doesn’t define my academic abilities and my classmates trusted me enough to ask me to join them.
How much do I believe my original biased expectation now? (0-100%)30%How intense are my emotions now? (0-100%)20%


Buschmann, T., Horn, R. A., Blankenship, V. R., Garcia, Y. E., & Bohan, K. B. (2017). The Relationship Between Automatic Thoughts and Irrational Beliefs Predicting Anxiety and Depression. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 36(2), 137–162.

Turner, M. J. (2016). Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), Irrational and Rational Beliefs, and the Mental Health of Athletes. Frontiers in Psychology, 07.


You can download this worksheet here.

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