Critical Thinking And Decision Making

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Critical Thinking and Decision Making

Critical Thinking and Decision Making


Identifying the cognitive style of individuals can facilitate understanding of their approach to critical thinking. An individual's cognitive style directs the person to pay attention to specific areas of knowledge and certain tasks and to reduce the extent to which the person focuses on other, similarly important, knowledge and tasks (Hughes, 2007).

Cognitive style is generally thought of as a phenomenon with multiple dimensions including decision making, learning, personality, and awareness. One dimension, awareness—of people, ideas, objects, and incidents—is considered especially important to problem solving and searching for opportunities in organisations. This dimension can be conceptualised as a continuum ranging from intuitive to rational. Researchers such as (Halpern, 2008) referred to these two modes of awareness that reflect the rational and intuitive sides of an individual. Intuitive individuals are likely to discover opportunities by noticing cues or signals in unfamiliar and sometimes puzzling information that is processed in a holistic manner. This can help individuals identify an opportunity and motivate them to take action (Costa, 2006). Intuition has been found to be an important thinking mode of expert idea generators.

The rational cognitive style can be described as orienting thinking to the analytic, relying on linear, sequential processing of information that allows individuals to evaluate and implement ideas or solutions. Individuals with the rational cognitive style may display competency in judging and evaluating information, and selecting actions to implement—skills that are needed as critical ideas are selected and put into action (Browne, 2006).


While critical thinking skills rely on some personality characteristics such as independence, risk-taking propensity, tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance, and low need for social approval, these skills can be taught through methods and techniques that enhance people's abilities to see things from different perspectives and to explore unstructured problems and situations more deeply and effectively (Bangert, 2007). studies on training of critical thinking skills have disclosed that it has a positive influence on the generation of novel and useful ideas leading to innovations.

A strong body of evidence exists to support the conclusion that specific instruction in critical-thinking skills will enhance critical thinking when the instruction includes a wide range of contexts (Hughes, 2007). If critical thinking is taught for just a few select contexts, it is less likely that those skills will be learned at a deep level that will generalise to novel real-life situations (Halpern, 2008). In creating a critical-thinking assessment that can determine if critical-thinking skills transfer to everyday situations, an online assessment of critical thinking was created in which problems are posed in the context of everyday situations. The Halpern critical-thinking assessment covers five broad categories of critical-thinking skills: verbal reasoning, argument analysis, hypothesis testing, likelihood and probability, and decision making and problem solving (Costa, 2006). It is a unique assessment in that each question begins with a common, everyday scenario. The first part of each question requires a constructed (written) response to a question about the scenario.

The constructed response is followed by a similar question that ...
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