Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Importance of Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is crucial to the evolution of knowledge; it raises vital questions that contribute to the ongoing transformation and expansion of the knowledge base. Without the ability to react with systematic evaluation, the psychological sciences, and all sciences, for that matter, would not be able to produce accurate and reliable information, and would be subject to common conjecture and radically varying opinion (Brown & Keeley, 2013). Critical thinking minimizes the shortcomings of human thinking, such as egocentrism and sociocentrism. It requires thinkers to remain open-minded and skeptical simultaneously, and enables the development of lucid strategies for questioning, observing, and resolving ambiguities. It is a self-corrective thinking process, in which the thinker has the capacity to question his or her own thoughts. Critical thinking limits biased, simplistic, and rigid thinking.

It is important to consider the limitations of information, even that which is scientifically gained; whether it is the diversity or number of participants, the length and location of the study, as well as the manner in which comparisons were made. Even the most conscientiously derived information is gained, at least in part, through processes supported by human nature, which has its inherent limitations. For example, when faced with ambiguities, humans naturally impose their personal perspectives to resolve to the ambiguity ( Brown & Keeley, 2013; Stewart & Bennett, 2006). For scientists, this process of imposition may be so deeply held that it becomes an unconscious bias and an inaccuracy that is difficult to recognize.

In the psychological sciences, as well as for any final or capstone project, utilizing a critical thought process helps ensure a quality standard and objectivity, and prevents bias. Asking the most appropriate questions can act as a grounding force in psychological research, and encourages researchers to make accurate and intelligent statements and realistic and reasonable predictions (Browne & Keeley, 2013). Since research from the psychological professions serves humanity in a variety of ways, and is often the basis of care, treatments, and interventions, the standards and quality of that research must be the most accurate and reliable possible. If a researcher does not question the information itself, and the sources from which it comes, it is likely the final product may be flimsy, illusory, or merely superficial, and without merit where it is needed.

Browne, M. N., & Keeley, S. M. (2013). Asking the right questions: A guide to critical thinking 9/e (Custom Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Stewart, E. C., & Bennett, M. J. (2006). American cultural patterns: a cross-cultural perspective. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.

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