Critical Thinking. How does it work? How can it help you?
Critical thinking consists in knowing how to analyze information, situations, and experiences in an objective way, distinguishing reality from one’s subjective impressions and prejudices. Critical thinking is an ability to recognize the factors that influence one’s own and others’ thoughts and behaviors and for this reason, it helps to remain lucid in the choices.
Why is critical thinking so important?
First of all: almost every employer looks for the skill of critical thinking in potential employees.
Secondly: in the era of ‘fake news’, conflicting information, and the amount of data that we process every day, critical thinking is the only way not to get lost in it.
Critical thinking – seven steps
- Define the problem or question. Do it as precisely as possible: the narrower the issue, the easier it is to find a solution or an answer.
- Collect data, opinions, and arguments. Try to find several sources that view the problem differently and compare different points of view.
- Examine and evaluate the data. Are your sources trustworthy? Are their conclusions confirmed by data or are they merely expressing some judgment? Is the hypothesis supported by sufficient information or data?
- Check objectivity. Are you sure your sources are not biased? Are certain assumptions or personal preferences guided by your choice of sources?
- Evaluate the importance of data. Which information is the most important? Is the sample on which the study was conducted sufficiently large? Do all the opinions and arguments you have collected really relate to the problem you want to solve?
- Make a decision / make conclusions. Think about what different conclusions you can draw and which ones have sufficient justification in the facts (if any). Assess the strengths and weaknesses of all possible options.
- Present or communicate the results. Once you reach the conclusion, introduce it to those interested.
In short: the skills we need to be able to think critically are varied and include:
- making decisions
In summary, critical thinking allows you to:
- Analyze information and situations objectively, evaluating advantages and disadvantages
- Distinguish the reality of the facts from your subjective impressions and your personal prejudices and interpretations
- Recognize external factors that influence one’s own and others’ thoughts and behaviors
Critical thinking requires the use of reasoning skills because it is about being an active student and not just a passive recipient of information. Critical thinkers will identify, analyze, and solve problems systematically, not intuitively or instinctively. Simply put: critical thinking is a way of thinking about what your mind is currently occupying but in order to reach the best possible conclusion.
The professional significance
The ability to think analytically and solve problems is an asset of every career.
Critical thinking promotes creativity because a sophisticated solution to a problem is not just about new ideas. It plays a key role in assessing new ideas, selecting the best, and modifying them as needed.
Critical thinking is crucial for self-reflection and self-knowledge because, in order to live meaningfully and shape our lives properly, we must justify and reflect on our values and decisions. Such thinking provides tools for such a self-assessment process.