Also known as “The Golden Hammer” or Maslow’s Hammer, Abraham Kaplan’s came up with this concept in 1964 and Abraham Maslow published it in 1966. The principle states that given a specific tool, we tend to be influenced by its function and utility. This will lead us to see opportunities to use that tool everywhere. This cognitive bias is also associated to instrumentalism in which we tend to look at the world from one narrow point of view, e.g. profession, tool, expertise, etc. In short, the law of the instrument influences us to use one tool for all purposes. Maslow’s popularised the concept with the phrase “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”


This idea is especially relevant in the computer programming, as after learning a new technology or concept, programmers tend to apply it obsessively to new problems and projects and not look for any other solution.

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