The Eight Guidelines to Critical Thinking

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Grant Anderson
Psychology 101
Mid-term Essay Paper
10/27/2008

The Eight Guidelines to Critical Thinking

In the discipline of Psychology, there are eight guidelines to critical thinking. This essay will discuss all of them with examples to help understand each one. The first is to Ask Questions: Be willing to wonder (Wade & Travis, 2008 p.8). Young children may ask questions such as, “Why is the sky blue Mommy?” “Why doesn’t the plane fall?” Why don’t pigs have wings?” Unfortunately, as children grow up, they tend to stop asking “why” questions. Why is this the case? Vincent Ruggiero (1988) observed, “The trigger mechanism for creative thinking is the disposition to be curious, to wonder, to inquire.” “Asking ‘Whats wrong here?’ or ‘Why is this the way it is, and how did it come to be that way?’ leads to the identification of problems and challenges.” By asking questions one will not approach new information such as theories and findings as received wisdom but will ask many questions so as to think the way psychologists do. An example of this has to do with the way work effects motivation. A question in this regard that North Americans tend to ask is, if a person isn’t doing well at work, “What’s the matter with that person’s motivation? How come that person is so lazy?” Yet by asking other questions, it would lead to different answers about why this person is “lazy”? Let say you lived in a town where a company is famous. The company has many employees that go to work with high hopes. Soon, however, an odd thing occurs to many employees. They complain of fatigue and irritability. They call out sick. Productivity declines. Some may think that this problem is due to employees being lazy.

But a question to consider would be why are all the employees lazy? Many psychologists have criticized the idea that achievement depends entirely on personality traits and motives to succeed (Morrison & Von Glico, 1990). Some do lack motivation, but accomplishments do not depend on psychological motives alone. Several aspects of the work environment are likely to increase work motivation and satisfaction and reduce the chances of emotional “burnout” (Bond et al., 2004; Maslach et al., 2001; Rhoades & Eisenbeger, 2002). A second essential to critical thinking is to define your terms (Wade & Travis, 2008, p. 9). After raising a general question, the next step is to frame it into clear and concrete terms. An example of this is when considering the question “What makes people happy?” This question will not lead to answers until you have defined what is mean by “happy”. There are different ways that a person can be happy. Happiness can be when you are in a state of euphoria, or being content with life. Being happy could also mean free of serious problems or pain? Vague and poorly defined terms in a question can lead to misleading or incomplete answers. Therefore when you define your terms, its makes all the difference. A third essential to critical thinking is to examine the evidence (Travis & Wade, 2008, p. 9). Someone in the heat of an argument may say “I just know its true, no matter what you say” or “That’s my opinion; nothings going to change it.” Accepting a conclusion without evidence is a sign of lazy thinking? A critical thinker will ask, “What evidence supports or refutes this argument and its opposition? How reliable is the evidence? An example of this is regarding many women that say they become more irritable or depressed premenstrual. Does the evidence support their self-reports?
An interresting question for a psychologist is whether these psychological changes...
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