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- What Is Critical Thinking? | Definition & Examples
What Is Critical Thinking? | Definition & Examples
Published on May 30, 2022 by Eoghan Ryan . Revised on November 25, 2022.
Critical thinking is the ability to effectively analyze information and form a judgment .
To think critically, you must be aware of your own biases and assumptions when encountering information, and apply consistent standards when evaluating sources .
Critical thinking skills help you to:
- Identify credible sources
- Evaluate and respond to arguments
- Assess alternative viewpoints
- Test hypotheses against relevant criteria
Table of contents
Why is critical thinking important, critical thinking examples, how to think critically, frequently asked questions about critical thinking.
Critical thinking is important for making judgments about sources of information and forming your own arguments. It emphasizes a rational, objective, and self-aware approach that can help you to identify credible sources and strengthen your conclusions.
Critical thinking is important in all disciplines and throughout all stages of the research process . The types of evidence used in the sciences and in the humanities may differ, but critical thinking skills are relevant to both.
In academic writing , critical thinking can help you to determine whether a source:
- Is free from research bias
- Provides evidence to support its research findings
- Considers alternative viewpoints
Outside of academia, critical thinking goes hand in hand with information literacy to help you form opinions rationally and engage independently and critically with popular media.
Critical thinking can help you to identify reliable sources of information that you can cite in your research paper . It can also guide your own research methods and inform your own arguments.
Outside of academia, critical thinking can help you to be aware of both your own and others’ biases and assumptions.
However, when you compare the findings of the study with other current research, you determine that the results seem improbable. You analyze the paper again, consulting the sources it cites.
You notice that the research was funded by the pharmaceutical company that created the treatment. Because of this, you view its results skeptically and determine that more independent research is necessary to confirm or refute them. Example: Poor critical thinking in an academic context You’re researching a paper on the impact wireless technology has had on developing countries that previously did not have large-scale communications infrastructure. You read an article that seems to confirm your hypothesis: the impact is mainly positive. Rather than evaluating the research methodology, you accept the findings uncritically.
However, you decide to compare this review article with consumer reviews on a different site. You find that these reviews are not as positive. Some customers have had problems installing the alarm, and some have noted that it activates for no apparent reason.
You revisit the original review article. You notice that the words “sponsored content” appear in small print under the article title. Based on this, you conclude that the review is advertising and is therefore not an unbiased source. Example: Poor critical thinking in a nonacademic context You support a candidate in an upcoming election. You visit an online news site affiliated with their political party and read an article that criticizes their opponent. The article claims that the opponent is inexperienced in politics. You accept this without evidence, because it fits your preconceptions about the opponent.
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There is no single way to think critically. How you engage with information will depend on the type of source you’re using and the information you need.
However, you can engage with sources in a systematic and critical way by asking certain questions when you encounter information. Like the CRAAP test , these questions focus on the currency , relevance , authority , accuracy , and purpose of a source of information.
When encountering information, ask:
- Who is the author? Are they an expert in their field?
- What do they say? Is their argument clear? Can you summarize it?
- When did they say this? Is the source current?
- Where is the information published? Is it an academic article? Is it peer-reviewed ?
- Why did the author publish it? What is their motivation?
- How do they make their argument? Is it backed up by evidence? Does it rely on opinion, speculation, or appeals to emotion ? Do they address alternative arguments?
Critical thinking also involves being aware of your own biases, not only those of others. When you make an argument or draw your own conclusions, you can ask similar questions about your own writing:
- Am I only considering evidence that supports my preconceptions?
- Is my argument expressed clearly and backed up with credible sources?
- Would I be convinced by this argument coming from someone else?
Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.
Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.
Critical thinking skills include the ability to:
You can assess information and arguments critically by asking certain questions about the source. You can use the CRAAP test , focusing on the currency , relevance , authority , accuracy , and purpose of a source of information.
Ask questions such as:
- Who is the author? Are they an expert?
- How do they make their argument? Is it backed up by evidence?
A credible source should pass the CRAAP test and follow these guidelines:
- The information should be up to date and current.
- The author and publication should be a trusted authority on the subject you are researching.
- The sources the author cited should be easy to find, clear, and unbiased.
- For a web source, the URL and layout should signify that it is trustworthy.
Information literacy refers to a broad range of skills, including the ability to find, evaluate, and use sources of information effectively.
Being information literate means that you:
- Know how to find credible sources
- Use relevant sources to inform your research
- Understand what constitutes plagiarism
- Know how to cite your sources correctly
Confirmation bias is the tendency to search, interpret, and recall information in a way that aligns with our pre-existing values, opinions, or beliefs. It refers to the ability to recollect information best when it amplifies what we already believe. Relatedly, we tend to forget information that contradicts our opinions.
Although selective recall is a component of confirmation bias, it should not be confused with recall bias.
On the other hand, recall bias refers to the differences in the ability between study participants to recall past events when self-reporting is used. This difference in accuracy or completeness of recollection is not related to beliefs or opinions. Rather, recall bias relates to other factors, such as the length of the recall period, age, and the characteristics of the disease under investigation.
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Critical Thinking Definition, Skills, and Examples
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Critical thinking refers to the ability to analyze information objectively and make a reasoned judgment. It involves the evaluation of sources, such as data, facts, observable phenomena, and research findings.
Good critical thinkers can draw reasonable conclusions from a set of information, and discriminate between useful and less useful details to solve problems or make decisions. Employers prioritize the ability to think critically—find out why, plus see how you can demonstrate that you have this ability throughout the job application process.
Why Do Employers Value Critical Thinking Skills?
Employers want job candidates who can evaluate a situation using logical thought and offer the best solution.
Someone with critical thinking skills can be trusted to make decisions independently, and will not need constant handholding.
Hiring a critical thinker means that micromanaging won't be required. Critical thinking abilities are among the most sought-after skills in almost every industry and workplace. You can demonstrate critical thinking by using related keywords in your resume and cover letter, and during your interview.
Examples of Critical Thinking
The circumstances that demand critical thinking vary from industry to industry. Some examples include:
- A triage nurse analyzes the cases at hand and decides the order by which the patients should be treated.
- A plumber evaluates the materials that would best suit a particular job.
- An attorney reviews evidence and devises a strategy to win a case or to decide whether to settle out of court.
- A manager analyzes customer feedback forms and uses this information to develop a customer service training session for employees.
Promote Your Skills in Your Job Search
If critical thinking is a key phrase in the job listings you are applying for, be sure to emphasize your critical thinking skills throughout your job search.
Add Keywords to Your Resume
You can use critical thinking keywords (analytical, problem solving, creativity, etc.) in your resume. When describing your work history , include top critical thinking skills that accurately describe you. You can also include them in your resume summary , if you have one.
For example, your summary might read, “Marketing Associate with five years of experience in project management. Skilled in conducting thorough market research and competitor analysis to assess market trends and client needs, and to develop appropriate acquisition tactics.”
Mention Skills in Your Cover Letter
Include these critical thinking skills in your cover letter. In the body of your letter, mention one or two of these skills, and give specific examples of times when you have demonstrated them at work. Think about times when you had to analyze or evaluate materials to solve a problem.
Show the Interviewer Your Skills
You can use these skill words in an interview. Discuss a time when you were faced with a particular problem or challenge at work and explain how you applied critical thinking to solve it.
Some interviewers will give you a hypothetical scenario or problem, and ask you to use critical thinking skills to solve it. In this case, explain your thought process thoroughly to the interviewer. He or she is typically more focused on how you arrive at your solution rather than the solution itself. The interviewer wants to see you analyze and evaluate (key parts of critical thinking) the given scenario or problem.
Of course, each job will require different skills and experiences, so make sure you read the job description carefully and focus on the skills listed by the employer.
Top Critical Thinking Skills
Keep these in-demand critical thinking skills in mind as you update your resume and write your cover letter. As you've seen, you can also emphasize them at other points throughout the application process, such as your interview.
Part of critical thinking is the ability to carefully examine something, whether it is a problem, a set of data, or a text. People with analytical skills can examine information, understand what it means, and properly explain to others the implications of that information.
- Asking Thoughtful Questions
- Data Analysis
- Questioning Evidence
- Recognizing Patterns
Often, you will need to share your conclusions with your employers or with a group of colleagues. You need to be able to communicate with others to share your ideas effectively. You might also need to engage in critical thinking in a group. In this case, you will need to work with others and communicate effectively to figure out solutions to complex problems.
- Active Listening
- Verbal Communication
- Written Communication
Critical thinking often involves creativity and innovation. You might need to spot patterns in the information you are looking at or come up with a solution that no one else has thought of before. All of this involves a creative eye that can take a different approach from all other approaches.
- Drawing Connections
To think critically, you need to be able to put aside any assumptions or judgments and merely analyze the information you receive. You need to be objective, evaluating ideas without bias.
Problem-solving is another critical thinking skill that involves analyzing a problem, generating and implementing a solution, and assessing the success of the plan. Employers don’t simply want employees who can think about information critically. They also need to be able to come up with practical solutions.
- Attention to Detail
- Decision Making
- Identifying Patterns
More Critical Thinking Skills
- Inductive Reasoning
- Deductive Reasoning
- Noticing Outliers
- Emotional Intelligence
- Strategic Planning
- Project Management
- Ongoing Improvement
- Causal Relationships
- Case Analysis
- SWOT Analysis
- Business Intelligence
- Quantitative Data Management
- Qualitative Data Management
- Risk Management
- Scientific Method
- Consumer Behavior
- Demonstrate that you have critical thinking skills by adding relevant keywords to your resume.
- Mention pertinent critical thinking skills in your cover letter, too, and include an example of a time when you demonstrated them at work.
- Finally, highlight critical thinking skills during your interview. For instance, you might discuss a time when you were faced with a challenge at work and explain how you applied critical thinking skills to solve it.
University of Louisville. " What is Critical Thinking ."
American Management Association. " AMA Critical Skills Survey: Workers Need Higher Level Skills to Succeed in the 21st Century ."
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4 examples of critical thinking that show its importance
Posted on May 17, 2019
Critical thinking is the ability to make informed decisions by evaluating several different sources of information objectively. As such, critical thinkers possess many other essential skills, including analysis, creativity, problem-solving and empathy.
Employers have always found critical thinking extremely valuable – after all, no boss wants to constantly handhold their employees because they are unable to make their own judgements about how best to proceed.
However, all too often people talk about critical thinking in theory, while never really explaining what that knowledge looks like in practice. As a result, many have never really understood the importance of thinking critically in business. Which is why we’ve created this list of examples of how critical thinking skills are used in the workplace.
Critical thinking example 1: Problem-solving
Imagine you’re at work. Someone, potentially your manager, presents you with a problem. You immediately go off and start looking for solutions. But do you take a step back first to analyse the situation, gathering and reviewing as much information as possible? Do you ask each of the different people involved what their opinion is, or how the problem affects their and the broader business’ day-to-day? And do you decide to run with the first solution you find, or take the time to come up with a number of different options and test each before making your final judgement?
While a lot of people may think they have problem-solving skills, if you aren’t taking the time to follow the above steps, you’re not really being a critical thinker. As such, you may not find the best solution to your problem.
Employing critical thinking skills when solving a problem is absolutely essential – what you decide could impact hundreds of people and even have an effect on the financial health of the business. If you’re not looking at it from multiple perspectives, you’re never going to be able to understand the full impact of a decision.
Critical thinking example 2: Risk assessment
Economic uncertainty, climate change, political upheaval … risks abound in the modern workforce, and it’s an employee’s critical thinking skills that will enable a business to assess these hazards and act on them.
Risk assessment occurs in a number of different scenarios. For example, a construction company has to identify all potential hazards on a building site to ensure its employees are working as safely as possible. Without this analysis, there could be injuries or even deaths, causing severe distress to the workforce and negatively impacting the company’s reputation (not to mention any of the legal consequences).
In the finance industry, organisations have to assess the potential impacts of new legislation on the way they work, as well as how the new law will affect their clients. This requires critical thinking skills such as analysis, creativity (imagining different scenarios arising from the legislation) and problem-solving (finding a way to work with the new legislation). If the financial institution in this example doesn’t utilise these critical thinking skills, it could end up losing profit or even suffering legal consequences from non-compliance.
Critical thinking example 3: Data analysis
In the digital age critical thinking has become even more, well, critical. While machines have the ability to collate huge amounts of information and reproduce it in a readable format, the ability to analyse and act on this data is still a skill only humans possess.
Take an accountant. Many of their more mundane tasks have passed to technology. Accounting platforms have the ability to produce profit and loss statements, prepare accounts, issue invoices and create balance sheets. But that doesn’t mean accountants are out of a job. Instead, they can now focus their efforts on adding real value to their clients by interpreting the data this technology has collated and using it to give recommendations on how to improve. On a wider scale, they can look at historic financial trends and use this data to forecast potential risks or stumbling blocks moving forward.
The core skill in all of these activities is critical thinking – being able to analyse a large amount of information and draw conclusions in order to make better decisions for the future. Without these critical thinkers, an organisation may easily fall behind its competitors, who are able to respond to risks more easily and provide more value to clients.
Critical thinking example 4: Talent hiring
One of the most important aspects of the critical thinking process is being able to look at a situation objectively. This also happens to be crucial when making a new hire. Not only do you have to analyse a large number of CVs and cover letters in order to select the best candidates from a pool, you also need to be able to do this objectively. This means not giving preferential treatment to someone because of their age, gender, origin or any other factor. Given that bias is often unconscious, if you can demonstrate that you are able to make decisions like this with as little subjectivity as possible, you can show that you possess objectivity – a key critical thinking skill.
Hiring the right talent is essential for a company’s survival. You don’t want to lose out on top candidates because of someone’s unconscious bias, showing just how essential this type of knowledge is in business.
Prove your critical thinking skills with professional practice credentials
As you can see, critical thinking skills are incredibly important to organisations across all industries. In today’s constantly changing world, businesses need people who can adapt and apply their thinking to new situations. No matter where you’re at in your career, you need critical thinking skills to complete your everyday tasks effectively, and when it comes to getting your next promotion, they’re vital.
But the problem with critical thinking skills, just like all soft skills, is that they are hard to prove. While you can show your employer you have a certificate in computer programming, you can’t say the same of critical thinking.
Until now. Enter Deakin’s professional practice credentials. These are university-level micro-credentials that provide an authoritative assessment of your proficiencies in a range of areas. This includes critical thinking, as well as a number of other soft skills, such as communication, innovation, teamwork and self-management.
Find out more about our credentials here or contact a member of the team today to find out how you can prove your critical thinking skills and take your career to the next level.
Defining Critical Thinking
- A Brief History of the Idea of Critical Thinking
- Critical Thinking: Basic Questions & Answers
- Our Conception of Critical Thinking
- Sumner’s Definition of Critical Thinking
- Research in Critical Thinking
- Critical Societies: Thoughts from the Past
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25 Critical Thinking Examples
Critical thinking is the ability to analyze information and make reasoned decisions. It involves suspended judgment, open-mindedness, and clarity of thought.
It involves considering different viewpoints and weighing evidence carefully. It is essential for solving complex problems and making good decisions.
People who think critically are able to see the world in a more nuanced way and understand the interconnectedness of things. They are also better able to adapt to change and handle uncertainty.
In today’s fast-paced world, the ability to think critically is more important than ever and necessary for students and employees alike.
Critical Thinking Examples
1. identifying strengths and weaknesses.
Critical thinkers don’t just take things at face value. They stand back and contemplate the potential strengths and weaknesses of something and then make a decision after contemplation.
This helps you to avoid excessive bias and identify possible problems ahead of time.
For example, a boxer about to get in the ring will likely need to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of his opponent. He might learn that his opponent’s left hook is very strong, but his opponent also gets tired after the third round. With this knowledge, he can go into the bout with strong defenses in the first three rounds before going on the offense.
Here, the boxer’s critical thinking skills will help him win his match.
2. Creating a Hypothesis based on Limited Data
When scientists set out to test a new theory, they first need to develop a hypothesis. This is an educated guess about how things work, based on what is already known.
Once a hypothesis has been developed, experiments can be designed to test it.
However, sometimes scientists may find themselves working with limited data. In such cases, they may need to make some assumptions in order to form a hypothesis.
For example, if they are studying a phenomenon that occurs infrequently, they may need to extrapolate from the data they do have in order to form a hypothesis.
Here, the scientist is engaged in critical thinking: they use the limited data to come up with a tentative judgment.
3. Moderating a Debate
A debate moderator needs to have strong critical thinking skills. They need to use objective evaluations, analysis, and critique to keep the discussion on track and ensure that all sides are heard fairly.
This means being able to identify when a point has been made sufficiently, or when someone is beginning to veer off topic and being able to direct the conversation accordingly.
Similarly, they need to be able to assess each argument objectively and consider its merits, rather than getting caught up in the emotion of the debate. If someone is using an unfair point or one that is not factual, the moderator needs to be switched on and identify this.
By remaining calm and impartial, the moderator can help to ensure that a debate is productive and respectful.
4. Judging and Adjudicating
A judge or adjudicator needs to weigh the evidence and make a determination based on the facts.
This requires the adjudicator to be able to try to see both sides of an argument. They need the ability to see past personal biases and to critically evaluate the credibility of all sides.
In addition, judges and adjudicators must be able to think quickly and make sound decisions in the face of complex issues.
For example, if you were to be adjudicating the above debate, you need to hear both sides of the argument and then decide who won. It’s your job to evaluate, see strengths and weaknesses in arguments, and come to a conclusion.
5. Grading an Essay
Teachers need critical thinking skills when grading essays so that they can effectively assess the quality of the writing. By critically analyzing the essay, teachers can identify any errors or weaknesses in the argument.
Furthermore, they can also determine whether the essay meets the required standards for the assignment. Even a very well-written essay may deserve a lower grade if the essay doesn’t directly answer the essay question.
A teacher needs to be able to read an essay and understand not only what the student is trying to say, but also how well they are making their argument. Are they using evidence effectively? Are they drawing valid conclusions? A teacher needs to be able to evaluate an essay holistically in order to give a fair grade.
In order to properly evaluate an essay, teachers need to be able to think critically about the writing. Only then can they provide an accurate assessment of the work.
6. Active Reading
Active reading is a skill that requires the reader to be engaged with the text in order to fully understand it. This means not only being able to read the words on the page, but also being able to interpret the meaning behind them.
In order to do this, active readers need to have good critical thinking skills.
They need to be able to ask questions about the text and look for evidence to support their answers. Additionally, active readers need to be able to make connections between the text and their own experiences.
Active reading leads to better comprehension and retention of information.
7. Deciding Whether or Not to Believe Something
When trying to determine whether or not to believe something, you’re engaging in critical thinking.
For example, you might need to consider the source of the information. If the information comes from a reliable source, such as a reputable news organization or a trusted friend, then it is more likely to be accurate.
However, if the source is less reliable, such as an anonymous website or a person with a known bias, then the information should be viewed with more skepticism.
In addition, it is important to consider the evidence that is being presented. If the evidence is well-supported and logically presented, then it is more likely to be true. However, if the evidence is weak or relies on fallacious reasoning, then the claim is less likely to be true.
8. Determining the Best Solution to a Situation
Determining the best solution to a problem generally requires you to critique the different options. There are often many different factors to consider, and it can be difficult to know where to start.
However, there are some general guidelines that can help to make the process a little easier.
For example, if you have a few possible solutions to the problem, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of each one. Consider both the short-term and long-term effects of each option before making a decision.
Furthermore, it is important to be aware of your own biases. Be sure to consider all of the options objectively, without letting your personal preferences get in the way.
9. Giving Formative Feedback
Formative feedback is feedback that you give to someone part-way through a learning experience. To do this, you need to think critically.
For example, one thing you need to do is see where the student’s strengths and weaknesses like. Perhaps the student is doing extremely well at a task, so your feedback might be that they should try to extend themselves by adding more complexity to the task.
Or, perhaps the student is struggling, so you suggest to them that they approach the learning experience from a different angle.
10. Giving Summative Feedback
Summative feedback occurs at the end of a learning scenario. For example, the written feedback at the end of an essay or on a report card is summative.
When providing summative feedback, it is important to take a step back and consider the situation from multiple perspectives. What are areas for improvement and where exactly might the student have missed some key points? How could the student have done better?
Asking yourself these questions is all part of the process of giving feedback, and they can all be considered examples of critical thinking. You’re literally critiquing the student’s work and identifying opportunities for improvement.
11. Evaluating Evidence
When evaluating evidence, critical thinkers take a step back and look at the bigger picture. They consider all of the available information and weigh it up. They look at logical flaws, the reliability of the evidence, and its validity.
This process allows them to arrive at a conclusion that is based on sound reasoning, rather than emotion or personal bias.
For example, when a social scientist looks at the evidence from his study, he needs to evaluate whether the data was corrupted and ensure the methodology was sound in order to determine if the evidence is valuable or not.
12. Media Literacy
Media literacy seems to be in short supply these days. Too many people take information off the internet or television and just assume it is true.
A person with media literacy, however, will not just trust what they see and read. Instead, they look at the data and weigh up the evidence. They will see if there was a sound study to back up claims. They will see if there is bias in the media source and whether it’s just following an ideological line.
Furthermore, they will make sure they seek out trustworthy media sources. These are not just media sources you like or that confirm your own point of view. They need to be sources that do their own research, find solid data, and don’t pursue one blind agenda.
13. Asking your Own Questions
Asking your own questions is an important part of critical thinking. When you ask questions, you are forcing yourself to think more deeply about the information you are considering.
Asking questions also allows you to gather more information from others who may have different perspectives.
This helps you to better understand the issue and to come up with your own conclusions.
So, often at schools, we give students a list of questions to ask about something in order to dig deeper into it. For example, in a book review lesson, the teacher might give a list of questions to ask about the book’s characters and plot.
14. Conducting Rigorous Research
Research is a process of inquiry that encompasses the gathering of data, interpretation of findings, and communication of results. The researcher needs to engage in critical thinking throughout the process, but most importantly, when designing their methodology.
Research can be done through a variety of methods, such as experiments, surveys, interviews, and observations. Each method has strengths and weaknesses.
Once the data has been collected, it must be analyzed and interpreted. This is often done through statistical methods or qualitative analysis.
Research is an essential tool for discovering new knowledge and for solving problems, but researchers need to think critically about how valid and reliable their data truly is.
15. Examining your own Beliefs and Prejudices
It’s important to examine your own beliefs and prejudices in order to ensure that they are fair and accurate. People who don’t examine their own beliefs have not truly critically examined their lives.
One way to do this is to take the time to consider why you believe what you do. What experiences have you had that have led you to this belief? Are there other ways to interpret these experiences? It’s also important to be aware of the potential for confirmation bias , which is when we seek out information that confirms our existing beliefs, while ignoring information that contradicts them.
This can lead us to hold onto inaccurate or unfair beliefs even when presented with evidence to the contrary.
To avoid this, it’s important to seek out diverse perspectives, and to be open-minded when considering new information. By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your beliefs are fair and accurate.
16. Looking at a Situation from Multiple Perspectives
One of the most important critical thinking skills that you can learn in life is how to look at a situation from multiple perspectives.
Being able to see things from different angles can help you to understand complex issues, spot potential problems, and find creative solutions. It can also help you to build better relationships, as you will be able to see where others are coming from and find common ground.
There are a few simple techniques that you can use to develop this skill.
First, try to imagine how someone else would feel in the same situation.
Second, put yourself in their shoes and try to see things from their point of view.
Finally, ask yourself what other factors may be influencing their perspective. By taking the time to view things from multiple angles, you will be better prepared to deal with whatever life throws your way.
17. Considering Implications before Taking Action
When faced with a difficult decision, it is important to consider the implications of each possible action before settling on a course of action.
This is because the consequences of our actions can be far-reaching and often unforeseen.
For example, a seemingly small decision like whether to attend a party or not might have much larger implications. If we decide to go to the party, we might miss an important deadline at work.
However, if we stay home, we might miss out on an opportunity to meet new people and make valuable connections.
In either case, our choice can have a significant impact on our lives.
Fortunately, critical thinking can help people to make well-informed decisions that could have a positive impact on their lives.
For example, you might have to weight up the pros and cons of attending the party and identify potential downsides, like whether you might be in a car with an impaired driver, and whether the party is really worth losing your job.
Having weighed up the potential outcomes, you can make a more rational and informed decision.
18. Reflective Practice
Reflecting on your actions is an important part of critical thinking. When you take the time to reflect, you are able to step back and examine your choices and their consequences more objectively.
This allows you to learn from your mistakes and make better decisions in the future.
In order to reflect effectively, it is important to be honest with yourself and open to learning new things. You must also be willing to question your own beliefs and assumptions. By taking these steps, you can develop the critical thinking skills that are essential for making sound decisions next time.
This will also, fortunately, help you to constantly improve upon yourself.
Problem-solving requires the ability to think critically in order to accurately assess a situation and determine the best course of action.
This means being able to identify the root cause of a problem, as well as any potential obstacles that may stand in the way of a solution. It also involves breaking down a problem into smaller, more manageable pieces in order to more easily find a workable solution.
In addition, critical thinking skills also require the ability to think creatively in order to come up with original solutions to these problems.
20. Brainstorming New Solutions
When brainstorming new solutions, critical thinking skills are essential in order to generate fresh ideas and identify potential issues.
For example, the ability to identify the problems with the last solution you tried is important in order to come up with better solutions this time. Similarly, analytical thinking is necessary in order to evaluate the feasibility of each idea. Furthermore, it is also necessary to consider different perspectives and adapt to changing circumstances.
By utilizing all of these critical thinking skills, it will be possible to develop innovative solutions that are both practical and effective.
21. Reserving Judgment
A key part of critical thinking is reserving judgment. This means that we should not rush to conclusions, but instead take the time to consider all the evidence before making up our minds.
By reserving judgment, we can avoid making premature decisions that we might later regret. We can also avoid falling victim to confirmation bias, which is the tendency to only pay attention to information that supports our existing beliefs.
Instead, by keeping an open mind and considering all the evidence, we can make better decisions and reach more accurate conclusions.
22. Identifying Deceit
Critical thinking is an important skill to have in any situation, but it is especially important when trying to identify deceit.
There are a few key things to look for when using critical thinking to identify deceit.
First, pay attention to the person’s body language. Second, listen closely to what the person is saying and look for any inconsistencies. Finally, try to get a sense of the person’s motive – why would they want to deceive you?
Each of these questions helps you to not just take things at their face value. Instead, you’re critiquing the situation and coming to a conclusion using all of your intellect and senses, rather than just believing what you’re told.
23. Being Open-Minded to New Evidence that Contradicts your Beliefs
People with critical thinking skills are more open-minded because they are willing to consider different points of view and evidence.
They also realize that their own beliefs may be wrong and are willing to change their minds if new information is presented.
Similarly, people who are not critical thinkers tend to be close-minded because they fail to critique themselves and challenge their own mindset. This can lead to conflicts, as closed-minded people are not willing to budge on their beliefs even when presented with contradictory evidence.
Critical thinkers, on the other hand, are able to have more productive conversations as they are willing to listen to others and consider different viewpoints. Ultimately, being open-minded and willing to change one’s mind is a sign of intelligence and maturity.
24. Accounting for Bias
We all have biases, based on our individual experiences, perspectives, and beliefs. These can lead us to see the world in a certain way and to interpret information in a way that supports our existing views.
However, if we want to truly understand an issue, it is important to try to put aside our personal biases and look at the evidence objectively.
This is where critical thinking skills come in.
By using critical thinking, we can examine the evidence dispassionately and assess different arguments without letting our own prejudices get in the way. Start by looking at weaknesses and logical flaws in your own thinking.
Play the devil’s advocate.
In this way, you can start to get a more accurate picture of an issue and make more informed decisions.
25. Basing your Beliefs on Logic and Reasoning
In order to lead a successful and fulfilling life, it is important to base your beliefs on logic and reasoning.
This does not mean that you should never believe in something without evidence, but it does mean that you should be thoughtful and intentional about the things that you choose to believe.
One way to ensure that your beliefs are based on logic and reasoning is to seek out reliable sources of information. Another method is to use thought games to follow all your thoughts to their logical conclusions.
By basing your beliefs on logic and reasoning, you will be more likely to make sound decisions, and less likely to be swayed by emotions or misinformation.
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Critical thinking is an important skill for anyone who wants to be successful in the modern world. It allows us to evaluate information and make reasoned decisions, rather than simply accepting things at face value.
Thus, employers often want to employ people with strong critical thinking skills. These employees will be able to solve problems by themselves and identify ways to improve the workplace. They will be able to push back against bad decisions and use their own minds to make good decisions.
Furthermore, critical thinking skills are important for students. This is because they need to be able to evaluate information and think through problems with a critical mindset in order to learn and improve.
Chris Drew (PhD)
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.
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Fifteen Positive Examples of Critical Thinking
Everyone needs critical thinking
We all encounter opportunities in our daily lives to engage problems and decisions using strong critical thinking. Everyone needs to think ahead, to plan and to problem solve. In fact, strong thinking is the common denominator of success throughout the world. It’s easy to find examples of critical thinking skills being applied, everyday, in everyday life.
Here are fifteen positive examples of critical thinking:
- A person trying to interpret an angry friend’s needs, expressed through a rush of emotion and snide comments, to give that friend some help and support.
- A manager trying to be as objective as possible when settling a dispute by summarizing the alternatives, with fairness to all sides to a disagreement.
- A team of scientists working with great precision through a complex experiment in an effort to gather and analyze data.
- A creative writer organizing ideas for the plot of a story and attending to the complex motivations and personalities of the fictional characters.
- A person running a small business trying to anticipate the possible economic and human consequences of various ways to increase sales or reduce costs.
- A master sergeant and a captain working out the tactical plans for a dangerous military mission.
- A soccer coach working during halftime on new tactics for attacking the weaknesses of the other team when the match resumes.
- A student confidently and correctly explaining exactly to his or her peers the methodology used to reach a particular conclusion, or why and how a certain methodology or standard of proof was applied.
- An educator using clever questioning to guide a student to new insights.
- Police detectives, crime scene analysts, lawyers, judges, and juries systematically investigating, interrogating, examining, and evaluating the evidence as they seek justice.
- A policy analyst reviewing alternative drafts of product safety legislation while determining how to frame the law to benefit the most people at the least cost.
- An applicant preparing for a job interview thinking about how to explain his or her particular skills and experiences in a way that will be relevant and of value to the prospective employer.
- Parents anticipating the costs of sending their young child to college, analyzing the family’s projected income, and budgeting projected household expenses in an effort to put aside some money for that child’s future education.
- A financial planner anticipating the impact of new income tax legislation on a client’s future tax liabilities.
- A first responder coming upon the scene of an accident and quickly analyzing the situation, evaluating priorities, and inferring what actions to take in what order.
Examples of critical thinking from Facione, P. & Gittens C. Think Critically , Pearson Education
We hope this list stimulates you to find examples of critical thinking in your personal and professional life
Critical thinking can be learned, assessed and improved.
Measuring critical thinking: Insight Assessment test instruments are calibrated to objectively measure the skills and mindset characteristic of strong critical thinkers in education, healthcare and business. Each assessment is designed to assess how test takers solve problems and make decisions in real world situations. Validated group and individual reports provide comprehensive analysis of strengths and weaknesses in essential aspects of good thinking. Contact us to discuss how our assessment tools are being used across the world to measure and improve thinking.
Improving critical thinking: INSIGHT Development Program is designed to build critical thinking in teams as well as individuals. It provides a series of online thinking skills and mindset enrichment modules with accompanying exercises, access to an assessment metric and performance reporting tools. Designed to be used as an independent study by employees, it can also be incorporated into existing training programs.
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What is critical thinking (a definition).
- “purposeful, self-regulatory judgment which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological, or conceptual considerations upon which that judgment is based” (Facione, 1990, p. 3).
- “skillful, responsible thinking that facilitates good judgment because it 1) relies upon criteria, 2) is self-correcting, and 3) is sensitive to context” (Lipman, 1988, p. 39);
- “seeing both sides of an issue, being open to new evidence that disconfirms your ideas, reasoning dispassionately, demanding that claims be backed by evidence, deducing and inferring conclusions from available facts, solving problems , and so forth” (Willingham, 2007, p. 8).
- Transcendent spiritual experiences
Video: What is Critical Thinking?
Why Critical Thinking Is Important
Critical Thinking Benefits
- Improved creativity
- More job success
- Better financial management
- Reduced probability of imprisonment
- Greater self-knowledge
- Improved quality of relationships
Barriers to Critical Thinking
How to think critically.
- Can you confirm the “facts” presented with multiple other sources?
- What level of expertise does the person presenting the argument have with the subject matter?
- Are there other explanations that are simpler or more likely to be true?
- Does the argument logically follow from the premise?
- Is there quantifiable evidence in support of the argument?
- Could the argument be proven false?
Critical Thinking Examples
- You’re scrolling through Instagram and see an ad for a serum that is “guaranteed” to make you’re your eyelashes 10x longer and thicker. Before deciding to purchase the product, you first look up the serum ingredients to determine whether there are any studies that support the claim in the ad.
- The governor of your state says that a particular virus is not dangerous or readily transmissible. Recognizing that the governor does not have any background in biology or virology, you decide to compare this declaration with what experts in the field have to say to see if the governor’s opinion aligns with the current consensus among scientists.
- You and your roommate hear a strange noise in the house. Your roommate speculates that the source of the noise was a poltergeist. You offer alternative hypotheses and the two of you discuss the plausibility of each hypothesis to identify which hypothesis is most likely to be true.
Critical Thinking Skills
- Interpretation – understanding the significance of a wide variety of experiences
- Analysis – examining ideas to identify the reasons and claims of an argument
- Explanation – presenting your reasoned argument including the evidence supporting it
- Evaluation – Assessing the credibility of claims and the quality of arguments made
- Inference – Formulating alternative hypotheses and drawing logically valid conclusions
- Self-regulation – Monitoring yourself and updating your viewpoint in accordance with the evidence
Critical Thinking Exercises
Video: 5 tips to improve your critical thinking.
Video: Encourage Critical Thinking with 3 Questions
Quotes on Critical Thinking
- “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle
- “Critical thinking requires us to use our imagination, seeing things from perspectives other than our own and envisioning the likely consequences of our position.” – Bell Hooks
- “The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holder’s lack of rational conviction.” – Bertrand Russell
- “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire
- “Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for critical thinking.” – Leo Tolstoy
- “A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.” – William James
- “Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.” – Carl Sagan
- “It is morally as bad not to care whether a thing is true or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to care how you got your money as long as you have got it.” – Edmond Way Teale
- “… For what a man had rather were true he more readily believes. Therefore he rejects difficult things from impatience of research; sober things, because they narrow hope; the deeper things of nature, from superstition; the light of experience, from arrogance and pride, lest his mind should seem to be occupied with things mean and transitory; things not commonly believed, out of deference to the opinion of the vulgar. Numberless in short are the ways, and sometimes imperceptible, in which the affections colour and infect the understanding.” – Sir Francis Bacon
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Final Thoughts on Critical Thinking
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- Arias, P., Bellouin, N., Coppola, E., Jones, R., Krinner, G., Marotzke, J., ... & Zickfeld, K. (2021). Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis . Contribution of Working Group14 I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Technical Summary.
- Facione, P. A. (1990). Critical thinking: A statement of expert consensus for purposes of educational assessment and instruction . Millbrae, CA: The California Academic Press.
- Facione, P. A. (2011). Critical thinking: What it is and why it counts . Insight assessment, 2007(1), 1-23.
- Gilovich, T. (1991). How we know what isn't so . (1 st ed.). Simon and Schuster.
- Lai, E. R. (2011). Critical thinking: A literature review . Pearson's Research Reports, 6(1), 40-41.
- Lipman, M. (1988). Critical thinking—What can it be? Educational Leadership, 46(1), 38–43.
- Wallace, E. D., & Jefferson, R. N. (2015). Developing Critical Thinking Skills: Assessing the Effectiveness of Workbook Exercises . Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 12(2), 101-108.
- Willingham, D. T. (2007). Critical thinking: Why is it so hard to teach? American Educator, 8–19.
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- What is Critical Thinking?
The ability to think critically calls for a higher-order thinking than simply the ability to recall information.
Definitions of critical thinking, its elements, and its associated activities fill the educational literature of the past forty years. Critical thinking has been described as an ability to question; to acknowledge and test previously held assumptions; to recognize ambiguity; to examine, interpret, evaluate, reason, and reflect; to make informed judgments and decisions; and to clarify, articulate, and justify positions (Hullfish & Smith, 1961; Ennis, 1962; Ruggiero, 1975; Scriven, 1976; Hallet, 1984; Kitchener, 1986; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991; Mines et al., 1990; Halpern, 1996; Paul & Elder, 2001; Petress, 2004; Holyoak & Morrison, 2005; among others).
After a careful review of the mountainous body of literature defining critical thinking and its elements, UofL has chosen to adopt the language of Michael Scriven and Richard Paul (2003) as a comprehensive, concise operating definition:
Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.
Paul and Scriven go on to suggest that critical thinking is based on: "universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness. It entails the examination of those structures or elements of thought implicit in all reasoning: purpose, problem, or question-at-issue, assumptions, concepts, empirical grounding; reasoning leading to conclusions, implication and consequences, objections from alternative viewpoints, and frame of reference. Critical thinking - in being responsive to variable subject matter, issues, and purposes - is incorporated in a family of interwoven modes of thinking, among them: scientific thinking, mathematical thinking, historical thinking, anthropological thinking, economic thinking, moral thinking, and philosophical thinking."
This conceptualization of critical thinking has been refined and developed further by Richard Paul and Linder Elder into the Paul-Elder framework of critical thinking. Currently, this approach is one of the most widely published and cited frameworks in the critical thinking literature. According to the Paul-Elder framework, critical thinking is the:
- Analysis of thinking by focusing on the parts or structures of thinking ("the Elements of Thought")
- Evaluation of thinking by focusing on the quality ("the Universal Intellectual Standards")
- Improvement of thinking by using what you have learned ("the Intellectual Traits")
Selection of a Critical Thinking Framework
The University of Louisville chose the Paul-Elder model of Critical Thinking as the approach to guide our efforts in developing and enhancing our critical thinking curriculum. The Paul-Elder framework was selected based on criteria adapted from the characteristics of a good model of critical thinking developed at Surry Community College. The Paul-Elder critical thinking framework is comprehensive, uses discipline-neutral terminology, is applicable to all disciplines, defines specific cognitive skills including metacognition, and offers high quality resources.
Why the selection of a single critical thinking framework?
The use of a single critical thinking framework is an important aspect of institution-wide critical thinking initiatives (Paul and Nosich, 1993; Paul, 2004). According to this view, critical thinking instruction should not be relegated to one or two disciplines or departments with discipline specific language and conceptualizations. Rather, critical thinking instruction should be explicitly infused in all courses so that critical thinking skills can be developed and reinforced in student learning across the curriculum. The use of a common approach with a common language allows for a central organizer and for the development of critical thinking skill sets in all courses.
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What is Critical Thinking?
Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally, understanding the logical connection between ideas. Critical thinking has been the subject of much debate and thought since the time of early Greek philosophers such as Plato and Socrates and has continued to be a subject of discussion into the modern age, for example the ability to recognise fake news .
Critical thinking might be described as the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking.
In essence, critical thinking requires you to use your ability to reason. It is about being an active learner rather than a passive recipient of information.
Critical thinkers rigorously question ideas and assumptions rather than accepting them at face value. They will always seek to determine whether the ideas, arguments and findings represent the entire picture and are open to finding that they do not.
Critical thinkers will identify, analyse and solve problems systematically rather than by intuition or instinct.
Someone with critical thinking skills can:
Understand the links between ideas.
Determine the importance and relevance of arguments and ideas.
Recognise, build and appraise arguments.
Identify inconsistencies and errors in reasoning.
Approach problems in a consistent and systematic way.
Reflect on the justification of their own assumptions, beliefs and values.
Critical thinking is thinking about things in certain ways so as to arrive at the best possible solution in the circumstances that the thinker is aware of. In more everyday language, it is a way of thinking about whatever is presently occupying your mind so that you come to the best possible conclusion.
Critical Thinking is:
A way of thinking about particular things at a particular time; it is not the accumulation of facts and knowledge or something that you can learn once and then use in that form forever, such as the nine times table you learn and use in school.
The Skills We Need for Critical Thinking
The skills that we need in order to be able to think critically are varied and include observation, analysis, interpretation, reflection, evaluation, inference, explanation, problem solving, and decision making.
Specifically we need to be able to:
Think about a topic or issue in an objective and critical way.
Identify the different arguments there are in relation to a particular issue.
Evaluate a point of view to determine how strong or valid it is.
Recognise any weaknesses or negative points that there are in the evidence or argument.
Notice what implications there might be behind a statement or argument.
Provide structured reasoning and support for an argument that we wish to make.
The Critical Thinking Process
You should be aware that none of us think critically all the time.
Sometimes we think in almost any way but critically, for example when our self-control is affected by anger, grief or joy or when we are feeling just plain ‘bloody minded’.
On the other hand, the good news is that, since our critical thinking ability varies according to our current mindset, most of the time we can learn to improve our critical thinking ability by developing certain routine activities and applying them to all problems that present themselves.
Once you understand the theory of critical thinking, improving your critical thinking skills takes persistence and practice.
Try this simple exercise to help you to start thinking critically.
Think of something that someone has recently told you. Then ask yourself the following questions:
Who said it?
Someone you know? Someone in a position of authority or power? Does it matter who told you this?
What did they say?
Did they give facts or opinions? Did they provide all the facts? Did they leave anything out?
Where did they say it?
Was it in public or in private? Did other people have a chance to respond an provide an alternative account?
When did they say it?
Was it before, during or after an important event? Is timing important?
Why did they say it?
Did they explain the reasoning behind their opinion? Were they trying to make someone look good or bad?
How did they say it?
Were they happy or sad, angry or indifferent? Did they write it or say it? Could you understand what was said?
What are you Aiming to Achieve?
One of the most important aspects of critical thinking is to decide what you are aiming to achieve and then make a decision based on a range of possibilities.
Once you have clarified that aim for yourself you should use it as the starting point in all future situations requiring thought and, possibly, further decision making. Where needed, make your workmates, family or those around you aware of your intention to pursue this goal. You must then discipline yourself to keep on track until changing circumstances mean you have to revisit the start of the decision making process.
However, there are things that get in the way of simple decision making. We all carry with us a range of likes and dislikes, learnt behaviours and personal preferences developed throughout our lives; they are the hallmarks of being human. A major contribution to ensuring we think critically is to be aware of these personal characteristics, preferences and biases and make allowance for them when considering possible next steps, whether they are at the pre-action consideration stage or as part of a rethink caused by unexpected or unforeseen impediments to continued progress.
The more clearly we are aware of ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, the more likely our critical thinking will be productive.
The Benefit of Foresight
Perhaps the most important element of thinking critically is foresight.
Almost all decisions we make and implement don’t prove disastrous if we find reasons to abandon them. However, our decision making will be infinitely better and more likely to lead to success if, when we reach a tentative conclusion, we pause and consider the impact on the people and activities around us.
The elements needing consideration are generally numerous and varied. In many cases, consideration of one element from a different perspective will reveal potential dangers in pursuing our decision.
For instance, moving a business activity to a new location may improve potential output considerably but it may also lead to the loss of skilled workers if the distance moved is too great. Which of these is the more important consideration? Is there some way of lessening the conflict?
These are the sort of problems that may arise from incomplete critical thinking, a demonstration perhaps of the critical importance of good critical thinking.
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Critical thinking is aimed at achieving the best possible outcomes in any situation. In order to achieve this it must involve gathering and evaluating information from as many different sources possible.
Critical thinking requires a clear, often uncomfortable, assessment of your personal strengths, weaknesses and preferences and their possible impact on decisions you may make.
Critical thinking requires the development and use of foresight as far as this is possible. As Doris Day sang, “the future’s not ours to see”.
Implementing the decisions made arising from critical thinking must take into account an assessment of possible outcomes and ways of avoiding potentially negative outcomes, or at least lessening their impact.
- Critical thinking involves reviewing the results of the application of decisions made and implementing change where possible.
It might be thought that we are overextending our demands on critical thinking in expecting that it can help to construct focused meaning rather than examining the information given and the knowledge we have acquired to see if we can, if necessary, construct a meaning that will be acceptable and useful.
After all, almost no information we have available to us, either externally or internally, carries any guarantee of its life or appropriateness. Neat step-by-step instructions may provide some sort of trellis on which our basic understanding of critical thinking can blossom but it doesn’t and cannot provide any assurance of certainty, utility or longevity.
Continue to: Critical Thinking and Fake News Critical Reading
See also: Analytical Skills Understanding and Addressing Conspiracy Theories Introduction to Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
Critical thinking is the ability to effectively analyze information and form a judgment. It also involves being aware of your own biases.
Critical thinking is the ability to objectively analyze information and draw a rational conclusion. It also involves gathering information on a
Examples of Critical Thinking · A triage nurse analyzes the cases at hand and decides the order by which the patients should be treated. · A
Critical thinking is the ability to make informed decisions by evaluating several different sources of information objectively.
Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating
Critical thinking is the ability to analyze information and make reasoned decisions. It involves suspended judgment, open-mindedness, and clarity of thought
A first responder coming upon the scene of an accident and quickly analyzing the situation, evaluating priorities, and inferring what actions to take in what
In general, critical thinking is understood to involve skeptical scrutiny—an open-minded but cautious approach to determining the veracity of a proposition
Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating
What is Critical Thinking? Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally, understanding the logical connection between ideas.