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Critical and Scientific Thinking in

Psychology
Objectives
• Analyze the steps of the scientific method,
including hypothesis
• List the guidelines for critical thinking (8),
including terms hypothesis and operational
definitions
Critical Thinking
• The ability and willingness to assess claims
and make objective judgments on the basis of
well supported reasons and evidence rather
than emotion or anecdote.
chapter 1

Critical thinking guidelines


Ask questions
Define your terms
Examine the evidence
Analyze assumptions and biases
Avoid emotional reasoning
Don’t oversimplify
Consider other interpretations
Tolerate uncertainty
Scientific method
• Is the way the critical thinking is processed
• Is a multi step…systematic view of information
and activities
#1 Ask Questions
• Kids ask WHY? Sky blue, bird fly, no wings on a
pig?
• Trigger mechanism- Creative Thinking
disposition to be curious to wonder, to inquire
• Need to be willing to wonder
# 2. Define YOUR TERMS

• Got a general question


• Frame in clear and concrete terms
• F.E. – Have you ever wondered whether animals
can use language?
• How do you define language?
• System of communication= Bees, Worms
• S.O.C. with sounds or jesters into an infinite
number of structured utterances that convey a
meaning.
Hypothesis ( helps define your terms)
• Scientists, you and I, are precise about what
they are studying
• Hypothesis- a statement that attempts to
describe or explain a given behavior.
• Might start, Misery loves company
• F.E.…”People who are anxious about a
threaten situation tend to seek out others
facing the same threat.”
More term definitions
• What will happen in a particular situation?
• F.E. such terms as anxiety or threatening
situation are given Operational definitions
• O.D.=Specify how the phenomenon in
question are to be observed and measured
• F.E. anxiety defined operationally as score on
anxiety questionnaire. Threaten sit. Electric
shock
Explicit prediction example
• If you raise people’s anxiety scores by telling
them they are going to receive electric shocks,
and then you give them the choice of waiting
alone or with others in the same situation,
they will be more likely to choose to wait with
others than they would be if they were not
anxious.
• Prediction can be tested; using systematic
methods
# 3 Examine the Evidence
• I just know it’s true, nothing you say can
change my mind.
• Critical thinker asks: What evidence supports
or refutes this argument and it’s opposition?”
• How reliable is the source? Educated,
experience, expertise, share evidence
• Uses empirical evidence
#4 Analyze assumptions and biases
• Assumptions- beliefs that are taken for
granted
• Biases- keep us from considering the evidence
fairly or that cause us to ignore the evidence
entirely
# 4 continue
• Refuted- disproved by counter evidence
• Principal known as Principal of falsifiability- the
theory must make predictions that are specific
enough to expose the theory to the possibility of
disconfirmation
• What will happen and what will not happen if the
hypo is correct.
• F.E. hypo support= most anxious people sought
out group HOWEVER, disconfirmed if anxious
people go alone or no effect on behavior.
Violations of falsifiability
• F.E. police officers believe a suspect is guilty, they
take the persons proclimation of innocence as
evidence of guilt. (he’s just covering up)
• Many people say innocent both guilty and
innicent.
• F.E. people believe in aliens faced with evidence
alien space ships natural phen. Or weather
balloons. True believers say gov. cover up or
aliens are avoiding detection
# 5 avoid emotional reasoning
• Can feel threatened and get defensive when
most treasured beliefs challenged
• We have strong beliefs on child rearing, drugs,
cause of crime, racism, the origins of
intelligence, gender differences,
homosexuality and many other issues
• May fight and quarrel with findings you
dislike: evidence unpersuasive or results make
you feel anxious or annoyed
# 6 Don’t oversimplify
• Look beyond obvious & Resist east generalizations
• AN EXAMPLE of oversimplification is argument by
anecdote
• generalizing from a personal experience or a few
examples
• For example- one friend who hates his or her school
means everyone who goes there hates it
• Often source of stereotyping
• CRITICAL AND SCIENTIFIC THINKERS WANT MORE
THAN 2 STORIES
# 7 Consider other interpretations
• In science goal is to arrive at a theory- an
organized system of assumptions and
principals that purports a certain
phenomenon and how they are related.
• F.E. theory of gravity
# 8 Tolerate uncertainty
• Sometimes little or no evidence
• Only tentative conclusion
• Not afraid to say “I don’t know “or “not sure”
• Other scientists need to repeat or replicate
• Reliability – ability to repeat in order to see
same results in research or experiment
• allows study and verification
• Sometimes only a fluke so need replication
Summary time!
• Explain critical thinking
• List the concepts of critical thinking