We have heard about “critical thinking” more often in recent years. It can be found in job descriptions, heard on TV screens, or read in popular psychological articles. But what kind of thinking is meant by this definition?
Critical thinking is the ability of a person to effectively analyze incoming information, defend their opinion with reason, and make the right decision based on the initial data. Thinking critically is an important skill to develop from a young age. How to develop it? You should control your thought processes, fight stereotypes and beliefs, ask questions, and not expect perfect results.
Build Your Critical Thinking Skills in 8 Steps
How to develop critical thinking on your own:
- Acquire new knowledge
It is impossible to analyze a task without a corresponding knowledge base effectively. Comparing, evaluating, and consciously choosing one or another solution will not work without experience. Any new task is easier to handle if you can view things through the prism of your existing skills.
- Be curious
You have no idea how many interesting, fascinating books you haven’t read. So, take the time to read them. We live in a wonderful era when you can find a lot of educational information in video format on the Internet: documentaries, lectures, and webinars. All this is presented even on YouTube.
- Learn to ask questions
Curiosity and a thirst for knowledge are the basis of critical thinking. To satisfy this thirst, it is necessary to be able to formulate questions correctly. So, practice asking questions on a variety of topics.
For example, set yourself the task of coming up with fifty questions about your favorite movie, book, painting, phenomenon, or event in the world around you, subject, or a specific topic of the school curriculum. When studying any issue, be interested in all aspects, consider the problem from different angles and clarify the details by asking questions.
- Turn to alternative sources of information
Critical thinking necessarily involves getting to know different, sometimes opposing, opinions about a problem. Studying the issue, you should refer to different sources, compare the information received, evaluate it for consistency, completeness, and reliability, and identify inconsistencies.
- Consider multiple solutions
In rare cases, there is only one way to solve a problem. As a rule, there are several options. Critical thinking is to see and think through all possible ways, choosing the most effective and convenient way.
When making a choice or a decision, think about what chains of development of consequences are possible. You can write down all the variations or display them as flowcharts for clarity. Learn to predict future events. Evaluate each decision, assess the possible risks, and find a way to reduce the effect of a negative outcome.
- Constantly remind yourself that you don’t know much
Incompetent people overestimate their knowledge, while experts systematically underestimate it. This cognitive distortion is called the Dunning-Kruger effect. It is connected primarily with the fact that incompetent people are sorely lacking information to realize the extent of their ignorance. Experts, on the contrary, understand their knowledge is only a small part of what mankind has accumulated throughout its history.
- Expand your social horizons
We tend to surround ourselves with those who share our views. Communication with such people only confirms that we are right in everything, which is very pleasant. However, because of this, our understanding of the world and people is limited, and we risk acting unwisely and biased. The way out is to regularly communicate with those whose views are not close to us, listen to them carefully and respectfully, and try to understand why their opinions differ.
For example, you can ask experts from a critical analysis writing service to help you write a paper. This way, you will see an alternative opinion, which can make you think in another direction.
- Think for yourself
Our brain readily agrees with someone else’s opinion if it doesn’t contradict our beliefs and doesn’t cause discomfort. This effect is especially noticeable when reading. When we are ready to receive useful information, we relax and trust the author of words. Of course, it is convenient and practical. But it is better to comprehend what has been said, finding arguments for a dispute with the author. Ideally, you should find inaccuracies and minor errors in it. This will not mean that the material is bad because everyone makes mistakes. It will only mean that you study it carefully.
Probably, almost every person is sure that they know how to think critically. But in reality, this ability is present only in a few people. Critical thinking implies that each of the principles above is observed. Critical thinking is one of the most useful skills in today’s world. It improves cognitive abilities and leads to more conscious life. Therefore, write down the rules and try to follow them all the time. Pretty soon, you will notice how much more often and more easily you can critically comprehend everyday life.