What do you mean by Critical Thinking. Explain the principles of Critical Thinking.

Rathus opines that psychologists have scientific principles like critical thinking to guide them. This critical thinking, according to Psychologists like McGovern develop the following thinking skills:

  • Development of skepticism about explanations and conclusions.
  • The ability to inquire about causes and events.
  • Increased curiosity about behavior. Knowledge about research methods.
  • The ability to analyse arguments critically.
  • Critical thinking, according to Beyer means reasoned judgments.

The principles of critical thinking given by Rathus (2008):

Be Skeptical: It is important for a person to keep an open mind. Nothing is to be accepted unless evidence for it is available. One should not accepted anything and everything said by others.

Examine definition of term: Certain statements are found to be true when a certain definition is given but not so when some other definition is given. It is important to follow the real meaning of the term.

Examine the assumptions or premises of arguments: This means that we have to analyse the assumptions on which the argument is given. An example here is  suppose the statement. One cannot learn about human beings by engaging in research with animals. From this statement it seems we are assuming that human beings are not animals, which is not true. Human beings are social animals.

Be cautious from drawing conclusion from, evidence: One has to be careful before we come to any conclusion on the basis of evidences available. Accident by a drunk driver is always inferred as having taken place because of him while the reason may have been something else, such as brake failure.

Consider Alternative interpretations of research evidence: When we interpret a research done, the interpretation may not be true at all times and in all cases. That is, in other circumstances, some other interpretations may be possible. For example, it is found that frustration leads to aggression.

This may not be true always. Also, aggression is not caused by frustration alone. There may be other reasons for it. Research evidence is always acceptable but interpretations by different psychologists are different. So, the interpretation by. a researcher must not be considered full and final. Alternative interpretations of results must be considered.

Do not over simplify: Human behavior is formed through an interaction of genetic and environmental factors, which is a highly complicated. We cannot consider- easy way out of situations. e.g., we cannot just ask whether psychopathy will solve psychological problems. The question has to be more directed, the answer cannot be just yes or no. More relevant question would be, what type of psychopathy, which doctor, what , kind of problem can be resolved?

Do not over generalize: A general statement like studying non-human animals cannot help us to learn about human beings is not the complete truth, So, statements like these are not fully correct.

Apply Critical thinking to all areas of life: It is important to have a skeptical attitude and a questioning mind. One should always ask for proof and not accept whatever is being said unquestionably. Those who believe the advertisements are political parties or the so called godmen and gurus blindly, do not have critical thinking.

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