Healthcare Informatics and Technology Investors
Healthcare Informatics and Technology Investors


About Team Role Theory

History & Research

Reliability & Validity

Dr. Meredith Belbin

Behavior vs. Personality



How to Make Sounder Decisons

Critical thinking is reflective thinking in which a person reasons about relevant evidence to make a sound or good determination (Bensley, 1998). Psychologists need critical thinking to draw correct conclusions from research, find out which theory is soundest, make correct diagnoses of psychological disorders, determine the most effective discourse, and solve numerous other problems. Students oftentimes seem to focus instead on learning facts to pass an exam: this is not sufficient to prepare you to think and function effectively in psychological science. And it’s not something that will inescapably improve as a vocation progresses: research indicates that having more clinical education and experience sometimes, but not invariably, increases proficiency on projects requiring critical thinking such as assessment and diagnosis (Garb, 1998). More focus on improving critical thinking is essential.

Fortunately, research indicates that with practice psychology scholars can improve critical thinking skills, such as identifying kinds of evidence in literature reviews (Bensley & Haynes, 1995), reasoning about statistics and methodology (VanderStoep & Shaughnessy, 1997), and studying psychological arguments and research (Bensley et al., 2007). Besides critical t

hinking skills, a psychologist should have critical thinking inclinations (Halpern, 1998). Examples include open-mindedness, rational curiosity, dedication to reason, and a sceptical attitude. Therefore, as I make the following comprehensive suggestions for improving critical thinking skills, I will likewise talk about tendencies related to the skills and illustrate with examples from psychology.

1. Strive for Preciseness and Lucidness in Your Thought

When it comes to relationships, do you think ‘opposites attract’, or do ‘birds of a feather flock together’? Individuals have views about questions like these because they have their own commonsense theories of mind, which are often imprecise and impervious to change (Bloom & Weisberg, 2007). In contrast, psychologists strive to clearly express their theories and are disposed to revise them. As you study psychology, reflect on whether you sustain any imprecise reasonable notions that should be replaced by the more precise nomenclature and findings of scientific psychology.

2. Look For Causes

Ask ‘Why?’ when people make claims without offering causes. The less evidence they provide, the more sceptical you should be. For instance, some self-help gurus are self-appointed experts with inadequate training and little concern for whether scientific research backs what they advocate (Salerno, 2005). In contrast, psychologists have progressively recommended using evidence-based practices; that is, using treatments and interventions that scientific research has proved to be effectual in diverse fashions.

3. Examine Alternative Viewpoints Fairly

By keeping your mind open to new ideas and viewpoints, you may find a view you prefer has some limitations you omitted. This can save you the embarrassment of jumping to a wrong conclusion or making a bad decision. Sometimes when scientists are willing to consider less-traveled ideas, they form unexpected discoveries, too. For instance, contrary to decades of research, Macklis (2001) discovered that nerve cells in the hippocampus, a small brain area affiliated with learning, do reproduce throughout life. Psychologists must likewise be careful to avoid the common error of confirmation prejudice or looking for evidence that prefers their own position while ignoring unfavourable evidence. Mahoney (1977) discovered that reviewers tended to more favourably evaluate articles agreeing with their own positions than articles of equivalent quality that dissented.

4. Be Sensitive to the Caliber of Evidence

Do not be overly impressed with weak evidence supplied by anecdotes or vivid examples. In the early 1990s, both parents and professionals were greatly impressed by stories of a newfound technique where facilitators guided the hands of autistic individuals to help them type responses on a keyboard. This ‘facilitated communication’ (FC) seemingly helped autistic children compose poems and do arduous academic work well beyond their previous capabilities. Early evidence supporting FC came from case studies and depictive observance (Green, 2002). Scientists remained suspicious, however, because case studies and naturalistic observation studies do not permit much control of extrinsic variables, such as the influence of the facilitator. When experimenters controlled and manipulated the data available to the facilitator and autistic person being facilitated, they proved that it was the facilitator developing the messages, not the autistic person (Mostert, 2001). Another form of evidence, the affirmations of authorities, deviate in quality depending on the knowledge and true expertise of the authority. For example, in 2005 US actor and scientologist Tom Cruise stated that he had studied the history of psychiatry and knew that psychiatric treatments were harmful. In response, Dr James H. Scully, medical director of the American Psychiatric Association, argued that numerous studies had distinctly proved that drug and talk therapy treatments help people with psychological disorders. While we might take Mr Cruise’s assertions about acting to be authoritative, we should trust Dr Scully’s assertions about treatment of mental disorders more.

5. Look at How Much Evidence is Accessible

The more data points or observations going into the outcomes of a report, the more you can trust the results, assuming the study is of good quality. Similarly, the more thorough studies duplicating the same result, the more you may trust the results and the hypothesis they support. For example, of the 37 studies Rotton and Kelly (1985) reexamined on the relation between the phases of the moon and abnormal and abnormal behaviour, they found only a few low-quality studies that supported the ‘lunar lunacy’ theory, suggesting it has weak support.

6. Draw Conclusions Consistent With the Soundest Evidence Available

As you learn more about psychology, favour those theories, hypotheses and practices with the most high-quality evidence verifying them; but remain sceptical. As new and better studies are done, you can look forward to improvements in theory and practice that are even more consistent with the data. In direct contrast, pseudosciences like astrology do not change despite much research showing they are defective and do not work (Bensley, 2002). When was the last time you heard an astrologer say, ‘We just got the outcomes of some new research and we have revised the personality description of Virgos?’

7. Seek Feedback and Reflect on the Caliber of Your Thinking

As you study psychology, check your reasoning to see if you are observing the propositions. Ask other individuals to critically remark on your writing and work. Seek to remain open-minded about criticism and learn what you can from their feedback.