Chapter 1: What is Psychology

Critical Thinking

Eight Critical Thinking Guidelines


Critical thinking involves a set of skills that will help you distinguish arguments based on solidly grounded evidence from those that don’t.

Eight Critical Thinking Guidelines


Key Concepts Explained

Ask Questions: Be willing to wonder.  
Define Your Terms: Key to Research  
      Be precise about what is being studied.  
      The hypothesis is the statement that specifies (predicts) relationships between variables.  
      Operational definitions are the precise definitions in terms of how the variables are actually being observed and measured.  
      Ex: Anxiety can be operationally defined as a score on a particular anxiety test. The score is the operational definition of anxiety in this study.  
Examine the Evidence  
      What evidence supports or refutes the argument being made?  
Analyze Assumptions and Biases  
      We must be aware of how our assumptions might bias our conclusions.  
    The principle of falsifiability means that scientific predictions are made to expose the hypothesis to the possibility of disconfirmation.  
Avoid Emotional Reasoning  
    Emotional reasoning can replace clear thinking.  
Don’t Oversimplify  
  Resist easy generalizations and “either-or thinking”.  
    Resist arguing by anecdote - generalizing from a few examples to everyone. Ex: One dishonest student does not mean that all students will cheat on an exam.  
Consider Other Interpretations  
      Formulate hypotheses that offer explanations of the topic.  
    The goal is to arrive at a theory which is a system of principles that tries to explain the phenomena and their interrelationships.  
    Be careful not to shut out alternative explanations too soon.  
Tolerate Uncertainty  
    Many questions have no easy answers. We have to be willing to be uncertain when new evidence questions our conclusions.  
      Replication is important before firm conclusions can be drawn.  


Links for Critical Thinking

Next Topic - Descriptive Studies: Establishing the Facts