Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is an important concept.  There may be a number of benefits of critical thinking.  For example, critical thinking may help people to make more careful and wise decisions.  Also, critical thinking may help in evaluating scientific findings. 

Critical Thinking Definition

     What is critical thinking?   There may be many possible ways to define critical thinking.  Different critical thinking articles may have different definitions of critical thinking.   Nonetheless, in general, critical thinking involves analyzing assumptions. 

Critical thinking can be defined as the process of  thinking of possible explanations for outcomes and findings, and determining how compatible the possible explanations are with the outcomes and findings.

Thinking Like a Scientist

     A person who demonstrates significant critical thinking is  thinking like a scientist.  If you are a scientist, you evaluate ideas and findings based on the evidence.  You will ask a number of questions concerning the ideas.   What is the evidence supporting the idea?  How well does the evidence support the idea?  What are the limitations of the ideas?  You will also ask several questions when learning about a research finding.  Are there alternative explanations for the finding?  What are the weaknesses of the methodology? What are the limitations of the findings?

Critical Thinking Examples

What are some examples of critical thinking?   If you learn that a supervisor's use of humor is correlated with how much an employee likes his or her job, you would think of more than one explanation for this finding.  Moreover, you would conclude that you cannot make causal conclusions from this finding because you are not able to rule out alternative explanations.    Another example of critical thinking is the conclusion that some findings from laboratory research may not generalize to real-world situations.  You would think of reasons why the findings would not generalize to real-world situations.