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4 Stages of Critical Thinking

Why critical thinking is so important

Many employers also place great emphasis on critical thinking in the workplace. A team full of yes-men may have the charm that there can never be any disagreements or even disputes, but as a rule really good results are not achieved in this way.

It is a big mistake to believe that colleagues and superiors always have to agree. If everything is always agreed upon from the beginning, there is no analysis and thus no improvement. If, on the other hand, employees think critically, they are also prepared to address potential difficulties or make their own suggestions. Supervisors and companies are increasingly recognizing these advantages and demanding more critical thinking from employees.

For two other good reasons:

  • Recognizing correct information. An almost unimaginable amount of information can be gathered on almost any topic. On the one hand, of course, this is a great advantage for getting a complete picture; on the other hand, it brings with it the challenge of recognizing the right information as such and filtering others.
  • Drawing key insights. Access to the crucial information is the basic prerequisite, but in itself doesn't get you much further at first. Only critical thinking and questioning makes it possible to draw the right conclusions from data, facts and knowledge and to derive an opinion, decision or action.

However, critical thinking is a skill like any other - not everyone has it, but it can be learned.

4 phases of critical thinking that everyone goes through

1. Phase: External thinking

This phase is mainly found in children, but unfortunately also in some adults. This phase is mainly characterized by the fact that one's own perception and the perception of information is very strongly influenced by the environment. In short: You believe what others tell you.

In the first phase, one's thinking is strongly dependent on the people with whom one surrounds oneself, but society and the media also have a major influence. Special caution is needed to avoid being taken advantage of or manipulated during this time.

The best way to escape outside thinking is to have a stronger sense of self-confidence. The more you trust that you can form your own opinion, the faster you can break away from the opinions of others and come to your own conclusions.

2. Phase: Contrast thinking

Yes or no, right or wrong, good or evil. The second phase is characterized by opposing poles, which, however, do not yet allow for middle solutions. Almost everything is divided into two extreme categories, but this is hardly possible in reality, which usually distorts the overall picture.

In addition, thinking errors are made in order to adapt information to one's own world view. Contradictory information is simply ignored or declared untrue. True to the motto: I see it differently, therefore it cannot be true...

You can reach the third phase when you realize that there is much more than just black and white. Try to broaden your horizon and accept the many different shades of gray. It is helpful if you occupy yourself with new things and deal with previously unknown topics - and do so openly and without bias.

3. Phase: Reflective thinking

Those who reach this phase have already taken a big step. Information is reflected and questioned, advantages and disadvantages are weighed up and the truth content is checked.

An essential aspect of the third phase: Not only new information is analyzed, but also existing supposed knowledge is questioned once again, since it was recognized that things can change and not necessarily everything is true, which one once thought to be correct. Through this self-reflection, one's own point of view becomes clearer and clearer.

The step into the last phase requires above all practice and experience, whereby you open up ever new perspectives for yourself and are also able to make deeper considerations and analyze concepts.

4. Phase 4: Analytical-critical thinking

In the fourth phase, the different aspects come together. You question critically, think logically and analyze information. At the same time, you have developed a self-critical point of view that allows you to question your own judgment as well - without falling into self-doubt.

Your critical thinking is now so good that you often already intuitively make the right decision based on your gut. In doing so, you draw on a wealth of experience, but at the same time you can take a step back yourself in order to view things as neutrally as possible.

In the last phase, even challenges no longer pose persistent problems. You recognize which points are particularly important and tackle each problem directly at the root. Analytical-critical thinking is thus particularly important for all solution-oriented people.

What you should know about thinking

When you think you're thinking, you're just thinking you're thinking... One thing is clear: thinking is complicated, even though in many cases it feels terribly simple to begin with. After all, we do it all the time, every day, every minute, every second.

You'd think we'd know everything there is to know about thinking. But far from it. Most people know very little about what's permanently going on in their heads. Far too bad, so we've picked out some interesting studies that shed light on how our thinking really works, and at the same time provide knowledge with which to impress and amaze others.

1. The short-term memory is really short

The effect of short-term memory is known to everyone who has ever stood in the supermarket and suddenly had absolutely no idea what he actually wanted to buy, which usually ends in the fact that the realization comes back only at home and you have to go again frustrated on the way. Sometimes one forgets already on the short way to the refrigerator or into another room, what one wanted there at all. In fact, short-term memory is much shorter than most people think.

Information that is not transferred to long-term memory begins to disappear from the brain after just a few seconds. Psychologists Lloyd and Margaret Peterson were able to prove this in their studies at the end of the 1950s. The test subjects were asked to remember simple combinations of three letters each.

After a few seconds, many rows could still be recalled, but when asked after just 18 seconds, the participants could only remember about one out of ten combinations. It therefore makes all the more sense to write down thoughts and ideas - and to do so at the exact moment you have them.

2. All senses are used when thinking

Every human being is almost constantly exposed to a veritable sensory overload. Everywhere there is something to see, it flashes and shines in the brightest colors, at the same time there are many sounds that scream for attention. Without us really noticing anything, it is the task of the brain and our thinking to sort out all these impressions and pass them on filtered to the consciousness.

In most cases this works amazingly well, but this system can also be tricked - with amazing results. The so-called McGurk effect shows very clearly that you should not always trust your senses and your thinking.

A short explanation would be that seeing, i.e. visual perception, has a higher priority than hearing and is therefore more dominant, but it's best if you just try it out for yourself.

3. Those who are incapable are not aware of it

In our thinking, we are true masters in twisting the world to fit our own image. Not only do we lie and embellish as much as possible, but we also ignore, add, twist and adapt until our self-image corresponds to the one we would like to have.

This self-deception is particularly pronounced among people who have the least skills - at least that is what the Dunning-Kruger effect, named after its discoverers, says. According to this effect, incompetent people repeatedly overestimate their own abilities, don't even realize how incompetent they actually are, can't learn anything, and on top of that underestimate the competence of everyone else.

A vicious circle, in which affected ones entangle themselves ever further, since it is firmly anchored in their thinking and they can hardly release themselves from it. All information that contradicts this self-created fallacy is simply ignored or dismissed as unjustified criticism.

4. Thinking is guided by formulations

We humans like to think of ourselves as logical thinkers, guided by rationality and thus able to always find a reasonable solution to any problem, or at least to make well-thought-out decisions in which all contingencies have been thought through.

While this may be partially true, our thinking can be very much influenced by various formulations. Don't think it's that simple and that the highly praised rationality can be undermined so easily? Then you only have to look at what happens when one and the same piece of information is packaged differently.

Imagine a doctor recommending a treatment with an 85 percent chance of cure. Sound good? In a similar experiment, nearly 75 percent of participants thought so. But if the doctor said there was a 15 percent risk that the treatment would not work and that it could be fatal, only just over 20 percent still thought the chances were promising - even though in both cases the information was completely identical, just packaged differently - the so-called framing effect.

5. Really logical thinking poses problems for many people

Once again on the subject of logical thinking, the apparent masterpiece of the human mind. But most people should not boast too much about this ability. In fact it shows up again and again that really logical thinking is very difficult and in most cases rather leads to confusion.

On the own body or better said on the own head this can be experienced with the most different logic riddles, which can be solved all by apparently simple, logical connections, instead however lead again and again to despair.

This often goes so far that not even the solution is really helpful and rather adds to the confusion than providing clarification. Our thinking is not as formally logical as we like to tell ourselves.

6. Mindset can contribute to success

A person's ways of thinking can tell researchers and scientists a great deal about how good and successful a person is in a particular field. The corresponding study dates back to 1981 and was able to show that experts and beginners have completely different thoughts on the same topic.

At first glance, this doesn't seem all that surprising; after all, experts simply have a greater wealth of knowledge about an area from which they can draw. In fact, however, it was the way of thinking that distinguished the professionals from the others.

While the subject novices were concerned with the superficial problems and questions of a task and already usually despaired of them or lost a lot of time, the experts focused on the effects and impacts behind them (the study was about physics issues). The results showed that this abstract and questioning thinking is an important success factor - and is therefore highly recommended for everyone.



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REVOMENTAL: 4 Stages of Critical Thinking
4 Stages of Critical Thinking
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