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12 common barriers to critical thinking (and how to overcome them).

As you know, critical thinking is a vital skill necessary for success in life and work. Unfortunately,  barriers to critical thinking  can hinder a person’s ability. This piece will discuss some of the most common  internal and external barriers to critical thinking  and what you should do if one of them hinders your ability to think critically.

Table of Contents

Critical Thinking Challenges

You already know that  critical thinking  is the process of analyzing and evaluating a situation or person so that you can make a sound judgment. You normally use the judgment you derive from your critical thinking process to make crucial decisions, and the choices you make affect you in workplaces, relationships, and life’s goals and achievements.

Several  barriers to critical thinking  can cause you to skew your judgment. This could happen even if you have a large amount of data and information to the contrary. The result might be that you make a poor or ineffective decision instead of a choice that could improve your life quality. These are some of the top obstacles that hinder and distort the ability to think critically:

1. Using Emotions Instead of Logic

Failing to remove one’s emotions from a critical thinking analysis is one of the hugest barriers to the process. People make these mistakes mainly in the relationship realm when choosing partners based on how they “make them feel” instead of the information collected.

The correct way to decide about a relationship is to use all facts, data, opinions, and situations to make a final judgment call. More times than not, individuals use their hearts instead of their minds.

Emotions can hinder critical thinking in the employment realm as well. One example is an employee who reacts negatively to a business decision, change, or process without gathering more information. The relationship between that person and the employer could become severed by her  lack of critical thinking  instead of being salvaged by further investigations and rational reactions.

2. Personal Biases

Personal biases can come from past negative experiences, skewed teachings, and peer pressure. They create a huge obstacle in critical thinking because they overshadow open-mindedness and fairness.

One example is failing to hire someone because of a specific race, age, religious preference, or perceived attitude. The hiring person circumvents using critical thinking by accepting his or her biases as truth. Thus, the entire processes of information gathering and objective analysis get lost in the mix.

3. Obstinance

Stubbornness almost always ruins the critical thinking procedure. Sometimes, people get so wrapped up in being right that they fail to look at the big picture. Big-picture thinking is a large part of critical thinking; without it, all judgments and choices are rash and incomplete.

4. Unbelief

It’s difficult for a person to do something he or she doesn’t believe in. It’s also challenging to engage in something that seems complex. Many people don’t think critically because they believe they must be scholarly to do so. The truth is that  anyone  can think critically by practicing the following steps:

  • 1. Gather as much data as possible.
  • 2. Have an opinion, but be open to changing it.
  • 3. Understand that assumptions are not the truth, and opinions are not facts.
  • 4. Think about the scenario, person, or problem from different angles.
  • 5. Evaluate all the information thoroughly.
  • 6. Ask simple, precise, and abundant questions.
  • 7. Take time to observe.
  • 8. Don’t be afraid to spend time on the problem or issue.
  • 9. Ask for input or additional information.
  • 10. Make it make sense.

5. Fear of Failure or Change

Fear of change and failure often hinders a person’s critical thinking process because it doesn’t allow thinking outside the box. Sometimes, the most efficient way to resolve a problem is to be open to changing something.

That change might be a different way of doing something, a relationship termination, or a shift of positions at a workplace. Fear can block out all possible scenarios in the critical thinking cycle. The result is often one-dimensional thinking, tunnel vision, or proverbial head-banging.

6. Egocentric Thinking

Egocentric thinking is also one of the main barriers to critical thinking. It occurs when a person examines everything through a “me” lens. Evaluating something properly requires an individual to understand and consider other people’s perspectives, plights, goals, input, etc.

7. Assumptions

Assumptions are one of the negative  factors that affect critical thinking . They are detrimental to the process because they cause distortions and misguided judgments. When using assumptions, an individual could unknowingly insert an invalid prejudgment into a stage of the thought process and sway the final decision.

It’s never wise to assume anything about a person, entity, or situation because it could be 100 percent wrong. The correct way to deal with assumptions is to store them in a separate thought category of possibilities and then use the data and other evidence to validate or nullify them.

XYZ  might  be why ABC happened, but there isn’t enough information or data to conclude it. The same concept is true for the rest of the possibilities, and thus, it’s necessary to research and analyze the facts before accepting them as truths.

8. Group Thinking

Group thinking is another one of the  barriers to critical thinking  that can block sound decisions and muddy judgments. It’s similar to peer pressure, where the person takes on the viewpoint of the people around him or her to avoid seeming “different.”

This barrier is dangerous because it affects how some people think about right and wrong. It’s most prevalent among teens. One example is the “everybody’s doing it (drugs, bullying), so I should too” mindset.

Unfortunately, this barrier can sometimes spill over into the workplace and darken the environment when workers can’t think for themselves. Workers may end up breaking policies, engaging in negative behavior, or harassing the workers who don’t conform.

Group thinking can also skew someone’s opinion of another person before the individual gets a chance to collect facts and evaluate the person for himself. You’ve probably heard of smear campaigns. They work so well against targets because the parties involved don’t use the critical thinking process at all.

9. Impulsivity

Impulsivity is the tendency to do things without thinking, and it’s a bona fide critical thinking killer. It skips right by  every  step in the critical thinking process and goes directly to what feels good in the moment.

Alleviating the habit takes practice and dedication. The first step is to set time aside when impulsive urges come to think about all aspects of the situation. It may take an impulsive person a while to develop a good critical thinking strategy, but it can work with time.

10. Not Knowing What’s Fact and Opinion

Critical thinking requires the thinker to know the difference between facts and opinions. Opinions are statements based on other people’s evaluative processes, and those processes may not be critical or analytical. Facts are an unemotional and unbiased piece of data that one can verify. Statistics and governmental texts are examples.

11. Having a Highly Competitive Nature

A “winning” mindset can overshadow the fair and objective evaluation of a problem, task, or person and undermine critical thinking. People who  think competitively  could lose sight of what’s right and wrong to meet a selfish goal that way.

12. Basing Statements on Popularity

This problem is prevalent in today’s world. Many people will accept anything a celebrity, political figure, or popular person says as gospel, but discredit or discount other people’s input. An adept critical thinker knows how to separate  what’s  being said from  who  said it and perform the necessary verification steps.

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How To Overcome Barriers in Critical Thinking

If you can identify any of the above-mentioned  barriers , your critical thinking may be flawed. These are some tips for overcoming such barriers:

1. Know your flaws.

The very first step toward improving anything is to know and admit your flaws. If you can do that, you are halfway to using better critical thinking strategies.

2. Park your emotions.

Use logic, not emotion, when you are evaluating something to form a judgment. It’s not the time to think with your heart.

3. Be mindful of others.

Try to put yourself in other people’s shoes to understand their stance. A little empathy goes a long way.

4. Avoid black-and-white thinking.

Understand that there’s always more than one way to solve a problem or achieve a goal. Additionally, consider that not every person is all bad or all good.

5. Dare to be unpopular.

Avoid making decisions to please other people. Instead, evaluate the full lot of information and make the decision you feel is best.

6. Don’t assign unjustified merit.

Don’t assume someone is telling the truth or giving you more accurate information because of his or her name or status. Evaluate  all  people’s input equally.

7. Avoid judging others.

Try to keep biases and prejudices out of your decision-making processes. That will make them fair and just.

8. Be patient with yourself.

Take all the days you need to pick apart a situation or problem and resolve it. Don’t rush to make hasty decisions.

9. Accept different points of view.

Not everyone will agree with you or tell you what you want to hear.

10. Embrace change.

Don’t ever be afraid of changing something or trying something new. Thinking outside the box is an integral part of the critical thinking process.

Now you know the answers to the question,  “What are the challenges of critical thinking?”  Use the information about the  barriers to critical thinking  to improve your critical thinking process and make healthier and more beneficial decisions for everyone.

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Founder of Eggcellentwork.com. With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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critical thinking common barriers

10 Barriers to Critical Thinking & Tips to Overcome Them

students overcoming barriers to critical thinking

Critical thinking is an essential life skill, especially in an age where deceptions like “my truth” and “your truth” run rampant. 

It allows us to think our way through issues and arrive at effective solutions, and it is a skill that deserves the dedication it takes to hone it.

In some cases, there are invisible barriers to critical thinking that must first be broken down before progress can be made. 

Because it is so vitally important for our teens to develop such skills—to think for themselves in a world pressuring them to tow the line—I think it’s worth addressing potential obstacles in their way. 

Here are 10 common barriers to critical thinking that may reveal themselves as you seek to teach this vital skill. 

1. Lack of Practice

Considering what causes a lack of critical thinking , the word “practice” comes to mind. 

The phrase “practice makes progress” rings true when developing critical thinking skills .

Critical thinking may be discussed at length and encouraged theoretically, but is it expressed in the assignments or exercises our teens do on a daily basis?

Sadly, many assignments simply ask for regurgitated facts from a textbook that require little to no real thinking. 

If we want to see our students thrive in the realm of critical thinking, we need to provide them with opportunities to practice and apply what they’ve learned in real-life situations.

2. Perceived Inability to Teach It

The idea that you’re not capable of teaching such a thing may just become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

If you believe you can’t teach critical thinking, you may not even try. If you do try, you may be plagued by self-doubt that shakes your confidence. 

If you’ve ever thought …

“Why is critical thinking so difficult?”

You’re not alone.

It can be hard to plainly identify what critical thinking is and how to teach it. That’s one of the main reasons we created Philosophy Adventure —to provide an intriguing way to teach critical thinking effectively.

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3. Normalcy Bias

Normalcy bias is a subconscious response that falsely assures things will remain the same as they always were. 

Every type of bias works against critical thinking as it uses emotion to make decisions rather than rational thought rooted in truth.

This bias encourages our minds to ignore danger and new information in favor of maintaining the safety and security of our “regular” lives. 

For example, normalcy bias leads us to believe that freedom will always be free despite growing threats to quench it. 

Frankly, it’s a dangerous barrier to critical thinking with the potential for lasting consequences.

4. Group-Think

The group-think effect is a phenomenon where individuals conform to the beliefs of others in order to avoid appearing different. 

It can lead to mass conformity in which society grows blind to flaws in opinion-based reasoning. 

Why think for yourself when someone else can do it for you? It’s a sobering thought—and a major obstacle to critical thinking—but I fear it’s one that is sweeping the world.

This is an especially tough barrier for teenagers who are often desperate to be accepted and liked by their peers. 

Rather than relying on critical thinking to decipher between right and wrong, they may cave to peer pressure because “everyone else is doing it.”

This barrier is yet another poignant example of why it’s so important to help our children develop critical thinking skills.  

5. Distorted View of Truth

We’re also susceptible to having a distorted view of what is fact and what isn’t. If we’re not careful, our view of truth can be distorted by misleading opinions.

critical thinking common barriers

Passionate people with deeply held beliefs are often willing to loudly defend them. 

Such passion and charisma can seduce teens and adults alike who may not fully know what they believe— or why they believe it . 

Of all the psychological obstacles to critical thinking, fear is a weighty one. 

I humbly suggest that it is the fear of failure or the fear of change that is most likely to act as a hindrance to critical thinking. 

Sometimes, when we look at an issue from every angle, we find that the only right reaction is to change. 

Likewise, if we fear failure, we’re likely to not act or try at all. 

And when it comes to trying to discern the truth in order to act upon it, not doing so can be far worse than the perceived failure itself. 

7. Viewing Everything Through the Lens of “Self”

Some people call it “egocentric thinking.” Whatever the name, it is the tendency to think about the world only as it relates to us. 

This self-centered thinking is natural, but there’s great value in training our minds to be able to view issues from another’s point of view. When problem-solving, it’s important to consider other perspectives.

This is particularly true when dealing with people who may be affected by our actions.

8. Past Experiences

Past experiences, relationships, even trauma can change us in a number of ways. 

What happened in the past surrounding any given thing most certainly influences how we think and feel about that thing in the future. 

But it’s important to recognize past experiences for what they are—a single moment (or period) of time.

They should not define our thoughts, nor should they dictate our actions as we seek to answer life’s questions objectively.  

Undoubtedly, it can be difficult to put such things in perspective so, and it calls for self-control, but it’s important to train our teens to try.  

Relying exclusively on the past to make decisions today can lead to negative outcomes as it relies on information that may not be true. 

9. Assumptions

Assumptions dampen our ability to learn. Though often flawed, assumptions quench our desire  to ask questions because we think we already know the answers. 

What a sad state to be stuck in because the truth is …

We don’t know what we don’t know.

How can we learn what we don’t know if we never root out the truth in a given matter?

Similarly, some people assume that because they don’t understand something, then it must be impossible to learn. 

That’s simply not true. We have an innate ability to learn new things, and critical thinking helps us do just that—with integrity.  

10. Time Constraints

There’s so much to learn in school that it can be hard to find the time to invest in critical thinking discussion and activities . 

This skill can often be moved to the side while teens learn about world history and how to write a proper essay—both of which are no doubt important. 

But I would argue that critical thinking gives students the foundation to not only better digest the material learned but to excel in it. 

How to Overcome Common Barriers to Critical Thinking 

We’ve established that critical thinking is an essential part of becoming a discerning adult, unmoved by news biases or passionate, emotional language. 

That being said, how do we break through the barriers that hinder critical thinking and move forward to teach such a significant skill?

You can help your students better develop their critical thinking skills by encouraging thoughtful questions and debate. 

When consuming news from around the world, inspire them to challenge their initial emotional reactions to the information presented. Teach them how to seek impartial data and use that to form an educated opinion. 

Providing real-world examples and connections between topics is a great way to encourage teens to think more deeply about a subject. 

Rather than presenting multiple choice answers or fill-in-the-blanks, ask them to talk through the question out loud based on the information they’ve been given.  

You can also try a fun exercise with these critical thinking questions for kids .

The ability to clearly vocalize beliefs and express thoughts is a priceless skill, and one that we have weaved into every lesson of Philosophy Adventure :

critical thinking common barriers

will your children recognize truth?

Critical thinking is a learned skill that requires practice (and breaking down barriers when they arise). 

However, the ability to identify logical fallacies in arguments and recognize deception is well worth investing in. 

Recognizing potential barriers that are obstructing that end goal is a solid first step. 

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How to Identify and Remove Barriers to Critical Thinking

An illustration of an office worker jumping over a brick wall representing barriers to critical thinking.

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Even a few simple techniques for logical decision making and persuasion can vastly improve your skills as a leader. Explore how critical thinking can help you evaluate complex business problems, reduce bias, and devise effective solutions.

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Problem-solving is a central business skill, and yet it's the one many people struggle with most. This course will show you how to apply critical thinking techniques to common business examples, avoid misunderstandings, and get at the root of any problem.

Contrary to popular belief, being intelligent or logical does not automatically make you a critical thinker.

People with high IQs are still prone to biases, complacency, overconfidence, and stereotyping that affect the quality of their thoughts and performance at work. But people who scored high in critical thinking —a reflection of sound analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making abilities—report having fewer negative experiences in and out of the office.

Top 5 Barriers to Critical Thinking

To learn how to think critically, you’ll need to identify and understand what prevents people from doing so in the first place. Catching yourself (and others) engaging in these critical thinking no-no’s can help prevent costly mistakes and improve your quality of life.

Here are five of the most common barriers to critical thinking.

Egocentric Thinking

Egoism, or viewing everything in relation to yourself, is a natural human tendency and a common barrier to critical thinking. It often leads to an inability to question one’s own beliefs, sympathize with others, or consider different perspectives.

Egocentricity is an inherent character flaw. Understand that, and you’ll gain the open-minded point of view required to assess situations outside your own lens of understanding.

Groupthink and Social Conditioning

Everyone wants to feel like they belong. It’s a basic survival instinct and psychological mechanism that ensures the survival of our species. Historically, humans banded together to survive in the wild against predators and each other. That desire to “fit in” persists today as groupthink, or the tendency to agree with the majority and suppress independent thoughts and actions.

Groupthink is a serious threat to diversity in that it supports social conditioning, or the idea that we should all adhere to a particular society or culture’s most “acceptable” behavior.

Overcoming groupthink and cultural conditioning requires the courage to break free from the crowd. It’s the only way to question popular thought, culturally embedded values, and belief systems in a detached and objective manner.

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Drone Mentality and Cognitive Fatigue

Turning on “autopilot” and going through the motions can lead to a lack of spatial awareness. This is known as drone mentality, and it’s not only detrimental to you, but those around you, as well.

Studies show that monotony and boredom are bad for mental health . Cognitive fatigue caused by long-term mental activity without appropriate stimulation, like an unchanging daily routine full of repetitive tasks, negatively impairs cognitive functioning and critical thinking .

Although you may be tempted to flip on autopilot when things get monotonous, as a critical thinker you need to challenge yourself to make new connections and find fresh ideas. Adopt different schools of thought. Keep both your learning and teaching methods exciting and innovative, and that will foster an environment of critical thinking.

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Personal Biases and Preferences

Everyone internalizes certain beliefs, opinions, and attitudes that manifest as personal biases. You may feel that you’re open minded, but these subconscious judgements are more common than most people realize. They can distort your thinking patterns and sway your decision making in the following ways:

  • Confirmation bias: favoring information that reinforces your existing viewpoints and beliefs
  • Anchoring bias: being overly influenced by the first piece of information you come across
  • False consensus effect: believing that most people share your perspective
  • Normalcy bias: assuming that things will stay the same despite significant changes to the status quo

The critical thinking process requires being aware of personal biases that affect your ability to rationally analyze a situation and make sound decisions.

Allostatic Overload

Research shows that persistent stress causes a phenomenon known as allostatic overload . It’s serious business, affecting your attention span, memory, mood, and even physical health.

When under pressure, your brain is forced to channel energy into the section responsible for processing necessary information at the expense of taking a rest. That’s why people experience memory lapses in fight-or-flight situations. Prolonged stress also reduces activity in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that handles executive tasks.

Avoiding cognitive impairments under pressure begins by remaining as calm and objective as possible. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and slow your thoughts. Assume the role of a third-party observer. Analyze and evaluate what can be controlled instead of what can’t.

Train Your Mind Using the 9 Intellectual Standards

The bad news is that barriers to critical thinking can really sneak up on you and be difficult to overcome. But the good news is that anyone can learn to think critically with practice.

Unlike raw intelligence, which is largely determined by genetics , critical thinking can be mastered using nine teachable standards of thought:

  • Clarity: Is the information or task at hand easy to understand and free from obscurities?
  • Precision: Is it specific and detailed?
  • Accuracy: Is it correct, free from errors and distortions?
  • Relevance: Is it directly related to the matter at hand?
  • Depth: Does it consider all other variables, contexts, and situations?
  • Breadth: Is it comprehensive, and does it encompass other perspectives?
  • Logical: Does it contradict itself?
  • Significance: Is it important in the first place?
  • Fairness: Is it free from bias, deception, and self-interest?

When evaluating any task, situation, or piece of information, consider these intellectual standards to hone your critical thinking skills in a structured, practiced way. Keep it up, and eventually critical thinking will become second nature.

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Break through these 5 common critical thinking barriers

Break through these 5 common critical thinking barriers

Can you think of the last time you made a decision? It was probably about one second ago, even though you may not have realized it.

Our days are filled with choices, from pressing the snooze button on the morning alarm to selecting what to eat for dinner. On average, adults make around 35,000 decisions a day . If you average 16 hours of waking time, that's almost 36 decisions per minute.

Most decisions are entirely unconscious, like whether or not to scratch an itch or having a knee-jerk reaction to the expression on your significant other's face. Others, though, require a more careful and critical examination.

Critical thinking is one of the most valuable skills we can possess in our personal and professional lives. It allows us to analyze information, make sound decisions, and solve problems. However, many people find it difficult to think critically.

This article will discuss what critical thinking is, why it's important, and how you can overcome common critical thinking barriers.

What is critical thinking?

The origin of critical thinking can be traced back thousands of years to the teaching practice of the Greek philosopher Socrates. After discovering that many people couldn't explain the truth of their statements, he encouraged people to ask questions that go deep into their thoughts before accepting them.

Socrates used open-ended questions to stimulate critical thinking and uncover assumptions, a process that bears his name today — Socratic Questioning. It’s grounded in the belief that thoughtful questioning allows the student to examine ideas logically and determine their validity.

Socrates' method of questioning set the stage for thoughtful reflection. Today, the Foundation for Critical Thinking defines critical thinking as "the art of analyzing and evaluating thinking to improve it." Unlike automatic or subconscious thought, thinking critically requires you to actively use intellectual tools to reach conclusions rather than relying on subconscious processes. This strengthens decision-making skills.

Critical thinking consists of two components:

  • A set of skills used to process information and beliefs
  • The act of consciously applying those skills as a guide for behavior

Each of these components is equally important during the critical thinking process.

What is the critical thinking process?

Critical thinking barriers: Steps on a wall

Critical thinkers evaluate evidence and analyze information before making a judgment. The process requires higher-order thinking skills such as sorting, analyzing, comparing data, and assessing logic and reason.

The critical thinking process consists of five primary elements :

  • Identify the claims. Organize arguments into basic statements and conclusions.
  • Clarify the arguments. Look for inconsistencies and ambiguities in statements.
  • Establish the facts. Verify whether the claims are reasonable, identify missing or omitted information, apply logic, and check for possible contradictions.
  • Evaluate the logic. Analyze whether the assumptions align with the conclusions.
  • Make the decision. Evaluate the argument using evidence, logic, and supporting data to increase the weight, contradictions, poor reasoning, or lack of evidence to decrease the weight.

Finding accuracy in ideas and challenging assumptions are essential parts of this process. Observing these two steps closely enables critical thinkers to form their own conclusions.

Why is it important to think critically?

Success in both business and life depends on the ability to think critically.

Human nature doesn't permit us to be completely objective. Instead, we each have our own viewpoints, close-mindedness, and social conditioning that influence our objective thinking capability. Everyone experiences distorted thinking and cognitive biases, leading to irrational thought processes. Critical thinking ability is necessary to overcome the limitations of irrational thinking.

Thinking critically is beneficial because it:

  • Promotes problem solving and innovation
  • Boosts creativity and curiosity
  • Encourages deeper self-reflection, self-assertion, and independence
  • Improves career opportunities
  • Builds objectivity and open-mindedness

Critical thinking isn't about reaching the "right" answer — it's about challenging the information you're given to make your own conclusions. When you can question details and think for yourself, you're less likely to be swayed by false claims, misleading arguments, and emotional manipulation.

5 common critical thinking barriers and how to break through them

It's possible to break through critical thinking barriers

The ability to think critically is essential to our personal and professional development. To become excellent critical thinkers, we must embrace a growth mindset — the idea that we can cultivate intelligence through learning and practice. This includes stepping out of our comfort zone to push our thinking patterns and checking in to correct ourselves as needed.

Very few of us can think critically without hitting a couple of roadblocks. These critical thinking barriers can come in many forms, including unwarranted assumptions, personal biases, egocentric thinking, and emotions that inhibit us from thinking clearly. By becoming aware of these common challenges and making a conscious effort to counter them, we can improve our critical thinking skills and learn to make better decisions.

Here are five of the most commonly encountered critical thinking barriers, how to spot them, and what you can do to overcome them.

1. Confirmation bias

What it is: Confirmation bias refers to the tendency to see new information as an affirmation of our existing beliefs and opinions. People with this bias disregard opposing points of view in favor of evidence that supports their position.

Why it occurs: Confirmation bias results from our emotional inclination to see the world from our perspective. Having quick reflexes keeps us safe, so we interpret information from our own perspective because it enables us to react instinctively . Another explanation is that our minds struggle with the parallel processing of two opposing arguments, so we only process the one we already believe because it’s easier.

How to overcome it: Confirmation bias may be the hardest bias to defeat . It’s difficult to not hold preconceived notions, but you can train your mind to think differently. Make an effort to be open-minded and look at situations from an alternative perspective. When we're aware of our own confirmation biases and diligently watch out for them, we can avoid favoring specific facts when evaluating arguments.

2. Self-serving bias

What it is : The self-serving bias concerns how we place attribution for results. An individual with this bias externalizes blame for any undesirable results, yet takes credit for success.

Why it occurs: Researchers have found that people with a self-serving bias make attributions based on their need to maintain a high level of self-esteem . Our minds fear losing confidence if we take responsibility for failure or negative outcomes.

How to overcome it: You can counteract self-serving bias by maintaining a growth mindset. To have a growth mindset, you must be able to admit your errors, examine personal biases, and learn to take criticism. To overcome a self-serving bias, practice self-compassion. Accepting your imperfections and being kind to yourself when you fall short of your goals can help you maintain confidence.

3. Normalcy bias

What it is: The normalcy bias arises from our instinctual need for safety. Using this bias, we tend to overlook new information and common sense so that nothing changes and we can continue to live our lives as usual.

Why it occurs: The normalcy bias is a protection mechanism, a form of denial. Usually active when facing a traumatic event, this bias shuts down the mind to protect us from things that are too painful or confusing to comprehend.

How to overcome it: Although it is the brain's attempt to protect us, the normalcy bias can be harmful — and even dangerous — if it keeps us from facing reality. The best way to overcome it is to face facts and truth head-on, no matter how difficult it may be.

4. Availability heuristic

What it is: The availability heuristic occurs when we rely on the first piece of information that comes to mind without weighing other possibilities, even when it may not be the best option. We assume that information that is more readily accessible is more likely to be true.

Why it occurs: This heuristic stems from the brain’s use of shortcuts to be efficient. It can be used in a wide variety of real-life situations to facilitate fast and accurate estimation.

How to overcome it: Some real-world scenarios (like probability estimations) can benefit from the availability bias, so it's neither possible nor advisable to eliminate it entirely. In the event of uncertainty, however, we must be aware of all relevant data when making judgments, not just that which comes readily to mind.

5. Sunk cost fallacy

What it is: The sunk cost fallacy arises from the instinctual need for commitment. We fall victim to this illusion when we continue doing something even if it's irrational, simply because we’ve already invested resources that we can’t get back.

Why it occurs: The sunk cost fallacy occurs when we’re affected by feelings of loss, guilt, or regret. These innate feelings are hard to overcome — research has found that even rats and mice struggle with sunk costs when pursuing a reward. Because of this tendency, when we feel like we've already put considerable effort into organizing our information and pursuing a result, we tell ourselves that we can’t waste it by changing course.

How to overcome it: Instead of dwelling on past commitments, pay attention to the present and future. Thinking with logical reasoning, in terms of concrete actions instead of feelings, is vital.

Be ABLE to think critically despite barriers

Thinking critically is an essential skill for self-learners . Making sound decisions starts with recognizing our critical thinking barriers. Practicing self-compassion and self-awareness are excellent ways to identify biases in your thinking. From there, you can begin working toward overcoming those obstacles. When you have no critical thinking barriers in your way, you can develop and strengthen the skills that will help you succeed.

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Christopher Dwyer Ph.D.

5 Barriers to Critical Thinking

What holds us back from thinking critically in day-to-day situations.

Posted January 18, 2019 | Reviewed by Davia Sills

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Quite often, discussions of Critical Thinking (CT) revolve around tips for what you or your students should be doing to enhance CT ability. However, it seems that there’s substantially less discussion of what you shouldn’t be doing—that is, barriers to CT.

About a year ago, I posted "5 Tips for Critical Thinking" to this blog, and after thinking about it in terms of what not to do , along with more modern conceptualizations of CT (see Dwyer, 2017), I’ve compiled a list of five major barriers to CT. Of course, these are not the only barriers to CT; rather, they are five that may have the most impact on how one applies CT.

1. Trusting Your Gut

Trust your gut is a piece of advice often thrown around in the context of being in doubt. The concept of using intuitive judgment is actually the last thing you want to be doing if critical thinking is your goal. In the past, intuitive judgment has been described as "the absence of analysis" (Hamm, 1988); and automatic cognitive processing—which generally lacks effort, intention, awareness, or voluntary control—is usually experienced as perceptions or feelings (Kahneman, 2011; Lieberman, 2003).

Given that intuitive judgment operates automatically and cannot be voluntarily "turned off," associated errors and unsupported biases are difficult to prevent, largely because reflective judgment has not been consulted. Even when errors appear obvious in hindsight, they can only be prevented through the careful, self-regulated monitoring and control afforded by reflective judgment. Such errors and flawed reasoning include cognitive biases and logical fallacies .

Going with your gut—experienced as perceptions or feelings—generally leads the thinker to favor perspectives consistent with their own personal biases and experiences or those of their group.

2. Lack of Knowledge

CT skills are key components of what CT is, and in order to conduct it, one must know how to use these skills. Not knowing the skills of CT—analysis, evaluation, and inference (i.e., what they are or how to use them)—is, of course, a major barrier to its application. However, consideration of a lack of knowledge does not end with the knowledge of CT skills.

Let’s say you know what analysis, evaluation, and inference are, as well as how to apply them. The question then becomes: Are you knowledgeable in the topic area you have been asked to apply the CT? If not, intellectual honesty and reflective judgment should be engaged to allow you to consider the nature, limits, and certainty of what knowledge you do have, so that you can evaluate what is required of you to gain the knowledge necessary to make a critically thought-out judgment.

However, the barrier here may not necessarily be a lack of topic knowledge, but perhaps rather believing that you have the requisite knowledge to make a critically thought-out judgment when this is not the case or lacking the willingness to gain additional, relevant topic knowledge.

3. Lack of Willingness

In addition to skills, disposition towards thinking is also key to CT. Disposition towards thinking refers to the extent to which an individual is willing or inclined to perform a given thinking skill, and is essential for understanding how we think and how we can make our thinking better, in both academic settings and everyday circumstances (Norris, 1992; Siegel, 1999; Valenzuela, Nieto, & Saiz, 2011; Dwyer, Hogan & Stewart, 2014).

Dispositions can’t be taught, per se, but they do play a large role in determining whether or not CT will be performed. Simply, it doesn’t matter how skilled one is at analysis, evaluation, and inference—if they’re not willing to think critically, CT is not likely to occur.

4. Misunderstanding of Truth

Truth-seeking is one such disposition towards thinking, which refers to a desire for knowledge; to seek and offer both reasons and objections in an effort to inform and to be well-informed; a willingness to challenge popular beliefs and social norms by asking questions (of oneself and others); to be honest and objective about pursuing the truth, even if the findings do not support one’s self-interest or pre-conceived beliefs or opinions; and to change one’s mind about an idea as a result of the desire for truth (Dwyer, 2017).

critical thinking common barriers

Though this is something for which many of us strive or even just assume we do, the truth is that we all succumb to unwarranted assumptions from time to time: that is, beliefs presumed to be true without adequate justification. For example, we might make a judgment based on an unsubstantiated stereotype or a commonsense/belief statement that has no empirical evidence to justify it. When using CT, it’s important to distinguish facts from beliefs and, also, to dig a little deeper by evaluating "facts" with respect to how much empirical support they have to validate them as fact (see " The Dirtiest Word in Critical Thinking: 'Proof' and its Burden ").

Furthermore, sometimes the truth doesn’t suit people, and so, they might choose to ignore it or try and manipulate knowledge or understanding to accommodate their bias . For example, some people may engage in wishful thinking , in which they believe something is true because they wish it to be; some might engage in relativistic thinking , in which, for them, the truth is subjective or just a matter of opinion.

5. Closed-mindedness

In one of my previous posts, I lay out " 5 Tips for Critical Thinking "—one of which is to play Devil’s Advocate , which refers to the "consideration of alternatives." There’s always more than one way to do or think about something—why not engage such consideration?

The willingness to play Devil’s Advocate implies a sensibility consistent with open-mindedness (i.e., an inclination to be cognitively flexible and avoid rigidity in thinking; to tolerate divergent or conflicting views and treat all viewpoints alike, prior to subsequent analysis and evaluation; to detach from one’s own beliefs and consider, seriously, points of view other than one’s own without bias or self-interest; to be open to feedback by accepting positive feedback, and to not reject criticism or constructive feedback without thoughtful consideration; to amend existing knowledge in light of new ideas and experiences; and to explore such new, alternative, or "unusual" ideas).

At the opposite end of the spectrum, closed-mindedness is a significant barrier to CT. By this stage, you have probably identified the inherent nature of bias in our thinking. The first step of CT is always going to be to evaluate this bias. However, one’s bias may be so strong that it leads them to become closed-minded and renders them unwilling to consider any other perspectives.

Another way in which someone might be closed-minded is through having properly researched and critically thought about a topic and then deciding that this perspective will never change, as if their knowledge will never need to adapt. However, critical thinkers know that knowledge can change and adapt. An example I’ve used in the past is quite relevant here—growing up, I was taught that there were nine planets in our solar system; however, based on further research, our knowledge of planets has been amended to now only consider eight of those as planets.

Being open-minded is a valuable disposition, but so is skepticism (i.e., the inclination to challenge ideas; to withhold judgment before engaging all the evidence or when the evidence and reasons are insufficient; to take a position and be able to change position when the evidence and reasons are sufficient; and to look at findings from various perspectives).

However, one can be both open-minded and skeptical. It is closed-mindedness that is the barrier to CT, so please note that closed-mindedness and skepticism are distinct dispositions.

Dwyer, C.P. (2017). Critical thinking: Conceptual perspectives and practical guidelines. UK: Cambridge University Press.

Dwyer, C.P., Hogan, M.J. & Stewart, I. (2014). An integrated critical thinking framework for the 21st century. Thinking Skills & Creativity, 12, 43-52.

Hamm, R. M. (1988). Clinical intuition and clinical analysis: expertise and the cognitive continuum. In J. Dowie & A. Elstein (Eds.), Professional judgment: A reader in clinical decision making, 78–105. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking fast and slow. Penguin: Great Britain.

Lieberman, M. D. (2003). Reflexive and reflective judgment processes: A social cognitive neuroscience approach. Social Judgments: Implicit and Explicit Processes, 5, 44–67.

Norris, S. P. (Ed.). (1992). The generalizability of critical thinking: Multiple perspectives on an educational ideal. New York: Teachers College Press.

Siegel, H. (1999). What (good) are thinking dispositions? Educational Theory, 49, 2, 207–221.

Valenzuela, J., Nieto, A. M., & Saiz, C. (2011). Critical thinking motivational scale: A contribution to the study of relationship between critical thinking and motivation. Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, 9, 2, 823–848.

Christopher Dwyer Ph.D.

Christopher Dwyer, Ph.D., is a lecturer at the Technological University of the Shannon in Athlone, Ireland.

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An Evaluative Review of Barriers to Critical Thinking in Educational and Real-World Settings

Associated data.

No new data were created or analyzed in this study. Data sharing is not applicable to this article.

Though a wide array of definitions and conceptualisations of critical thinking have been offered in the past, further elaboration on some concepts is required, particularly with respect to various factors that may impede an individual’s application of critical thinking, such as in the case of reflective judgment. These barriers include varying levels of epistemological engagement or understanding, issues pertaining to heuristic-based thinking and intuitive judgment, as well as emotional and biased thinking. The aim of this review is to discuss such barriers and evaluate their impact on critical thinking in light of perspectives from research in an effort to reinforce the ‘completeness’ of extant critical thinking frameworks and to enhance the potential benefits of implementation in real-world settings. Recommendations and implications for overcoming such barriers are also discussed and evaluated.

1. Introduction

Critical thinking (CT) is a metacognitive process—consisting of a number of skills and dispositions—that, through purposeful, self-regulatory reflective judgment, increases the chances of producing a logical solution to a problem or a valid conclusion to an argument ( Dwyer 2017 , 2020 ; Dwyer et al. 2012 , 2014 , 2015 , 2016 ; Dwyer and Walsh 2019 ; Quinn et al. 2020 ).

CT has long been identified as a desired outcome of education ( Bezanilla et al. 2019 ; Butler et al. 2012 ; Dwyer 2017 ; Ennis 2018 ), given that it facilitates a more complex understanding of information ( Dwyer et al. 2012 ; Halpern 2014 ), better judgment and decision-making ( Gambrill 2006 ) and less dependence on cognitive bias and heuristic thinking ( Facione and Facione 2001 ; McGuinness 2013 ). A vast body of research (e.g., Dwyer et al. 2012 ; Gadzella 1996 ; Hitchcock 2004 ; Reed and Kromrey 2001 ; Rimiene 2002 ; Solon 2007 ), including various meta-analyses (e.g., Abrami et al. 2008 , 2015 ; Niu et al. 2013 ; Ortiz 2007 ), indicates that CT can be enhanced through targeted, explicit instruction. Though CT can be taught in domain-specific areas, its domain-generality means that it can be taught across disciplines and in relation to real-world scenarios ( Dwyer 2011 , 2017 ; Dwyer and Eigenauer 2017 ; Dwyer et al. 2015 ; Gabennesch 2006 ; Halpern 2014 ). Indeed, the positive outcomes associated with CT transcend educational settings into real-world, everyday situations, which is important because CT is necessary for a variety of social and interpersonal contexts where good decision-making and problem-solving are needed on a daily basis ( Ku 2009 ). However, regardless of domain-specificity or domain-generality of instruction, the transferability of CT application has been an issue in CT research (e.g., see Dumitru 2012 ). This is an important consideration because issues with transferability—for example, in real-world settings—may imply something lacking in CT instruction.

In light of the large, aforementioned body of research focusing on enhancing CT through instruction, a growing body of research has also evaluated the manner in which CT instruction is delivered (e.g., Abrami et al. 2008 , 2015 ; Ahern et al. 2019 ; Cáceres et al. 2020 ; Byerly 2019 ; Dwyer and Eigenauer 2017 ), along with additional considerations for and the barriers to such education, faced by teachers and students alike (e.g., Aliakbari and Sadeghdaghighi 2013 ; Cáceres et al. 2020 ; Cornell et al. 2011 ; Lloyd and Bahr 2010 ; Ma and Liu 2022 ; Ma and Luo 2021 ; Rear 2019 ; Saleh 2019 ); for example, those regarding conceptualisation, beliefs about CT, having feasible time for CT application and CT’s aforementioned transferability. However, there is a significant lack of research investigating barriers to CT application by individuals in real-world settings, even by those who have enjoyed benefits from previous CT instruction. Thus, perhaps the previously conjectured ‘something lacking in CT instruction’ refers to, in conjunction with the teaching of what CT consists of, making clear to students what barriers to CT application we face.

Simply, CT instruction is designed in such a way as to enhance the likelihood of positive decision-making outcomes. However, there are a variety of barriers that can impede an individual’s application of CT, regardless of past instruction with respect to ‘how to conduct CT’. For example, an individual might be regarded as a ‘critical thinker’ because they apply it in a vast majority of appropriate scenarios, but that does not ensure that they apply CT in all such appropriate scenarios. What keeps them from applying CT in those scenarios might well be one of a number of barriers to CT that often go unaddressed in CT instruction, particularly if such instruction is exclusively focused on skills and dispositions. Perhaps too much focus is placed on what educators are teaching their students to do in their CT courses as opposed to what educators should be recommending their students to look out for or advising what they should not be doing. That is, perhaps just as important for understanding what CT is and how it is conducted (i.e., knowing what to do) is a genuine awareness of the various factors and processes that can impede CT; and so, for an individual to think critically, they must know what to look out for and be able to monitor for such barriers to CT application.

To clarify, thought has not changed regarding what CT is or the cognitive/metacognitive processes at its foundation (e.g., see Dwyer 2017 ; Dwyer et al. 2014 ; Ennis 1987 , 1996 , 1998 ; Facione 1990 ; Halpern 2014 ; Paul 1993 ; Paul and Elder 2008 ); rather, additional consideration of issues that have potential to negatively impact CT is required, such as those pertaining to epistemological engagement; intuitive judgment; as well as emotional and biased thinking. This notion has been made clear through what might be perceived of as a ‘loud shout’ for CT over at least the past 10–15 years in light of growing political, economic, social, and health-related concerns (e.g., ‘fake news’, gaps between political views in the general population, various social movements and the COVID-19 pandemic). Indeed, there is a dearth of research on barriers to CT ( Haynes et al. 2016 ; Lloyd and Bahr 2010 ; Mangena and Chabeli 2005 ; Rowe et al. 2015 ). As a result, this evaluative perspective review aims to provide an impetus for updating the manner in which CT education is approached and, perhaps most importantly, applied in real-world settings—through further identifying and elaborating on specific barriers of concern in order to reinforce the ‘completeness’ of extant CT frameworks and to enhance the potential benefits of their implementation 1 .

2. Barriers to Critical Thinking

2.1. inadequate skills and dispositions.

In order to better understand the various barriers to CT that will be discussed, the manner in which CT is conceptualised must first be revisited. Though debate over its definition and what components are necessary to think critically has existed over the 80-plus years since the term’s coining (i.e., Glaser 1941 ), it is generally accepted that CT consists of two main components: skills and dispositions ( Dwyer 2017 ; Dwyer et al. 2012 , 2014 ; Ennis 1996 , 1998 ; Facione 1990 ; Facione et al. 2002 ; Halpern 2014 ; Ku and Ho 2010a ; Perkins and Ritchhart 2004 ; Quinn et al. 2020 ). CT skills—analysis, evaluation, and inference—refer to the higher-order, cognitive, ‘task-based’ processes necessary to conduct CT (e.g., see Dwyer et al. 2014 ; Facione 1990 ). CT dispositions have been described as inclinations, tendencies, or willingness to perform a given thinking skill (e.g., see Dwyer et al. 2016 ; Siegel 1999 ; Valenzuela et al. 2011 ), which may relate to attitudinal and intellectual habits of thinking, as well as motivational processes ( Ennis 1996 ; Norris 1994 ; Paul and Elder 2008 ; Perkins et al. 1993 ; Valenzuela et al. 2011 ). The relationship between CT skills and dispositions has been argued to be mutually dependent. As a result, overemphasising or encouraging the development of one over the other is a barrier to CT as a whole. Though this may seem obvious, it remains the case that CT instruction often places added emphasis on skills simply because they can be taught (though that does not ensure that everyone has or will be taught such skills), whereas dispositions are ‘trickier’ (e.g., see Dwyer 2017 ; Ku and Ho 2010a ). That is, it is unlikely that simply ‘teaching’ students to be motivated towards CT or to value it over short-instructional periods will actually meaningfully enhance it. Moreover, debate exists over how best to train disposition or even measure it. With that, some individuals might be more ‘inherently’ disposed to CT in light of their truth-seeking, open-minded, or inquisitive natures ( Facione and Facione 1992 ; Quinn et al. 2020 ). The barrier, in this context, is how we can enhance the disposition of those who are not ‘inherently’ inclined. For example, though an individual may possess the requisite skills to conduct CT, it does not ensure the tendency or willingness to apply them; and conversely, having the disposition to apply CT does not mean that one has the ability to do so ( Valenzuela et al. 2011 ). Given the pertinence of CT skills and dispositions to the application of CT in a broader sense, inadequacies in either create a barrier to application.

2.2. Epistemological (Mis)Understanding

To reiterate, most extant conceptualisations of CT focus on the tandem working of skills and dispositions, though significantly fewer emphasise the reflective judgment aspect of CT that might govern various associated processes ( Dawson 2008 ; Dwyer 2017 ; Dwyer et al. 2014 , 2015 ; King and Kitchener 1994 , 2004 ; Stanovich and Stanovich 2010 ). Reflective judgment (RJ) refers to a self-regulatory process of decision-making, with respect to taking time to engage one’s understanding of the nature, limits, and certainty of knowing and how this can affect the defense of their reasoning ( Dwyer 2017 ; King and Kitchener 1994 ; Ku and Ho 2010b ). The ability to metacognitively ‘think about thinking’ ( Flavell 1976 ; Ku and Ho 2010b ) in the application of critical thinking skills implies a reflective sensibility consistent with epistemological understanding and the capacity for reflective judgement ( Dwyer et al. 2015 ; King and Kitchener 1994 ). Acknowledging levels of (un)certainty is important in CT because the information a person is presented with (along with that person’s pre-existing knowledge) often provides only a limited source of information from which to draw a conclusion. Thus, RJ is considered a component of CT ( Baril et al. 1998 ; Dwyer et al. 2015 ; Huffman et al. 1991 ) because it allows one to acknowledge that epistemological understanding is necessary for recognising and judging a situation in which CT may be required ( King and Kitchener 1994 ). For example, the interdependence between RJ and CT can be seen in the way that RJ influences the manner in which CT skills like analysis and evaluation are conducted or the balance and perspective within the subsequent inferences drawn ( Dwyer et al. 2015 ; King et al. 1990 ). Moreover, research suggests that RJ development is not a simple function of age or time but more so a function of the amount of active engagement an individual has working in problem spaces that require CT ( Brabeck 1981 ; Dawson 2008 ; Dwyer et al. 2015 ). The more developed one’s RJ, the better able one is to present “a more complex and effective form of justification, providing more inclusive and better integrated assumptions for evaluating and defending a point of view” ( King and Kitchener 1994, p. 13 ).

Despite a lesser focus on RJ, research indicates a positive relationship between it and CT ( Baril et al. 1998 ; Brabeck 1981 ; Dawson 2008 ; Dwyer et al. 2015 ; Huffman et al. 1991 ; King et al. 1990 )—the understanding of which is pertinent to better understanding the foundation to CT barriers. For example, when considering one’s proficiency in CT skills, there might come a time when the individual becomes so good at using them that their application becomes something akin to ‘second nature’ or even ‘automatic’. However, this creates a contradiction: automatic thinking is largely the antithesis of reflective judgment (even though judgment is never fully intuitive or reflective; see Cader et al. 2005 ; Dunwoody et al. 2000 ; Hamm 1988 ; Hammond 1981 , 1996 , 2000 )—those who think critically take their time and reflect on their decision-making; even if the solution/conclusion drawn from the automatic thinking is ‘correct’ or yields a positive outcome, it is not a critically thought out answer, per se. Thus, no matter how skilled one is at applying CT skills, once the application becomes primarily ‘automatic’, the thinking ceases to be critical ( Dwyer 2017 )—a perspective consistent with Dual Process Theory (e.g., Stanovich and West 2000 ). Indeed, RJ acts as System 2 thinking ( Stanovich and West 2000 ): it is slow, careful, conscious, and consistent ( Kahneman 2011 ; Hamm 1988 ); it is associated with high cognitive control, attention, awareness, concentration, and complex computation ( Cader et al. 2005 ; Kahneman 2011 ; Hamm 1988 ); and accounts for epistemological concerns—consistent not only with King and Kitchener’s ( 1994 ) conceptualisation but also Kuhn’s ( 1999 , 2000 ) perspective on metacognition and epistemological knowing . This is where RJ comes into play as an important component of CT—interdependent among the requisite skills and dispositions ( Baril et al. 1998 ; Dwyer et al. 2015 )—it allows one to acknowledge that epistemological understanding is vital to recognising and judging a situation in which CT is required ( King and Kitchener 1994 ). With respect to the importance of epistemological understanding, consider the following examples for elaboration.

The primary goal of CT is to enhance the likelihood of generating reasonable conclusions and/or solutions. Truth-seeking is a CT disposition fundamental to the attainment of this goal ( Dwyer et al. 2016 ; Facione 1990 ; Facione and Facione 1992 ) because if we just applied any old nonsense as justification for our arguments or solutions, they would fail in the application and yield undesirable consequences. Despite what may seem like truth-seeking’s obvious importance in this context, all thinkers succumb to unwarranted assumptions on occasion (i.e., beliefs presumed to be true without adequate justification). It may also seem obvious, in context, that it is important to be able to distinguish facts from beliefs. However, the concepts of ‘fact’ or ‘truth’, with respect to how much empirical support they have to validate them, also require consideration. For example, some might conceptualise truth as factual information or information that has been or can be ‘proven’ true. Likewise, ‘proof’ is often described as evidence establishing a fact or the truth of a statement—indicating a level of absolutism. However, the reality is that we cannot ‘prove’ things—as scientists and researchers well know—we can only disprove them, such as in experimental settings where we observe a significant difference between groups on some measure—we do not prove the hypothesis correct, rather, we disprove the null hypothesis. This is why, in large part, researchers and scientists use cautious language in reporting their results. We know the best our findings can do is reinforce a theory—another concept often misconstrued in the wider population as something like a hypothesis, as opposed to what it actually entails: a robust model for how and/or why a given phenomenon might occur (e.g., gravity). Thus, theories will hold ‘true’ until they are falsified—that is, disproven (e.g., Popper [1934] 1959 , 1999 ).

Unfortunately, ‘proof’, ‘prove’, and ‘proven’—words that ensure certainty to large populations—actually disservice the public in subtle ways that can hinder CT. For example, a company that produces toothpaste might claim its product to be ‘clinically proven’ to whiten teeth. Consumers purchasing that toothpaste are likely to expect to have whiter teeth after use. However, what happens—as often may be the case—if it does not whiten their teeth? The word ‘proven’ implies a false claim in context. Of course, those in research understand that the word’s use is a marketing ploy, given that ‘clinically proven’ sounds more reassuring to consumers than ‘there is evidence to suggest…’; but, by incorrectly using words like ‘proven’ in our daily language, we reinforce a misunderstanding of what it means to assess, measure and evaluate—particularly from a scientific standpoint (e.g., again, see Popper [1934] 1959 , 1999 ).

Though this example may seem like a semantic issue, it has great implications for CT in the population. For example, a vast majority of us grew up being taught the ‘factual’ information that there were nine planets in our solar system; then, in 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet—no longer being considered a ‘major’ planet of our solar system. As a result, we now have eight planets. This change might be perceived in two distinct ways: (1) ‘science is amazing because it’s always developing—we’ve now reached a stage where we know so much about the solar system that we can differentiate celestial bodies to the extent of distinguishing planets from dwarf planets’; and (2) ‘I don’t understand why these scientists even have jobs, they can’t even count planets’. The first perspective is consistent with that of an individual with epistemological understanding and engagement that previous understandings of models and theories can change, not necessarily because they were wrong, but rather because they have been advanced in light of gaining further credible evidence. The second perspective is consistent with that of someone who has failed to engage epistemological understanding, who does not necessarily see that the change might reflect progress, who might be resistant to change, and who might grow in distrust of science and research in light of these changes. The latter point is of great concern in the CT research community because the unwarranted cynicism and distrust of science and research, in context, may simply reflect a lack of epistemological understanding or engagement (e.g., to some extent consistent with the manner in which conspiracy theories are developed, rationalised and maintained (e.g., Swami and Furnham 2014 )). Notably, this should also be of great concern to education departments around the world, as well as society, more broadly speaking.

Upon considering epistemological engagement in more practical, day-to-day scenarios (or perhaps a lack thereof), we begin to see the need for CT in everyday 21st-century life—heightened by the ‘new knowledge economy’, which has resulted in exponential increases in the amount of information made available since the late 1990s (e.g., Darling-Hammond 2008 ; Dwyer 2017 ; Jukes and McCain 2002 ; Varian and Lyman 2003 ). Though increased amounts of and enhanced access to information are largely good things, what is alarming about this is how much of it is misinformation or disinformation ( Commission on Fake News and the Teaching of Critical Literacy in Schools 2018 ). Truth be told, the new knowledge economy is anything but ‘new’ anymore. Perhaps, over the past 10–15 years, there has been an increase in the need for CT above and beyond that seen in the ‘economy’s’ wake—or maybe ever before; for example, in light of the social media boom, political unrest, ‘fake news’, and issues regarding health literacy. The ‘new’ knowledge economy has made it so that knowledge acquisition, on its own, is no longer sufficient for learning—individuals must be able to work with and adapt information through CT in order to apply it appropriately ( Dwyer 2017 ).

Though extant research has addressed the importance of epistemological understanding for CT (e.g., Dwyer et al. 2014 ), it does not address how not engaging it can substantially hinder it—regardless of how skilled or disposed to think critically an individual may be. Notably, this is distinct from ‘inadequacies’ in, say, memory, comprehension, or other ‘lower-order’ cognitively-associated skills required for CT ( Dwyer et al. 2014 ; Halpern 2014 ; see, again, Note 1) in that reflective judgment is essentially a pole on a cognitive continuum (e.g., see Cader et al. 2005 ; Hamm 1988 ; Hammond 1981 , 1996 , 2000 ). Cognitive Continuum Theory postulates a continuum of cognitive processes anchored by reflective judgment and intuitive judgment, which represents how judgment situations or tasks relate to cognition, given that thinking is never purely reflective, nor is it completely intuitive; rather, it rests somewhere in between ( Cader et al. 2005 ; Dunwoody et al. 2000 ). It is also worth noting that, in Cognitive Continuum Theory, neither reflective nor intuitive judgment is assumed, a priori, to be superior ( Dunwoody et al. 2000 ), despite most contemporary research on judgment and decision-making focusing on the strengths of RJ and limitations associated with intuitive judgment ( Cabantous et al. 2010 ; Dhami and Thomson 2012 ; Gilovich et al. 2002 ). Though this point regarding superiority is acknowledged and respected (particularly in non-CT cases where it is advantageous to utilise intuitive judgment), in the context of CT, it is rejected in light of the example above regarding the automaticity of thinking skills.

2.3. Intuitive Judgment

The manner in which human beings think and the evolution of which, over millions of years, is a truly amazing thing. Such evolution has made it so that we can observe a particular event and make complex computations regarding predictions, interpretations, and reactions in less than a second (e.g., Teichert et al. 2014 ). Unfortunately, we have become so good at it that we often over-rely on ‘fast’ thinking and intuitive judgments that we have become ‘cognitively lazy’, given the speed at which we can make decisions with little energy ( Kahneman 2011 ; Simon 1957 ). In the context of CT, this ‘lazy’ thinking is an impediment (as in opposition to reflective judgment). For example, consider a time in which you have been presented numeric data on a topic, and you instantly aligned your perspective with what the ‘numbers indicate’. Of course, numbers do not lie… but people do—that is not to say that the person who initially interpreted and then presented you with those numbers is trying to disinform you; rather, the numbers presented might not tell the full story (i.e., the data are incomplete or inadequate, unbeknownst to the person reporting on them); and thus, there might be alternative interpretations to the data in question. With that, there most certainly are individuals who will wish to persuade you to align with their perspective, which only strengthens the impetus for being aware of intuitive judgment as a barrier. Consider another example: have you ever accidentally insulted someone at work, school, or in a social setting? Was it because the statement you made was based on some kind of assumption or stereotype? It may have been an honest mistake, but if a statement is made based on what one thinks they know, as opposed to what they actually know about the situation—without taking the time to recognise that all situations are unique and that reflection is likely warranted in light of such uncertainty—then it is likely that the schema-based ‘intuitive judgment’ is what is a fault here.

Our ability to construct schemas (i.e., mental frameworks for how we interpret the world) is evolutionarily adaptive in that these scripts allow us to: make quick decisions when necessary and without much effort, such as in moments of impending danger, answer questions in conversation; interpret social situations; or try to stave off cognitive load or decision fatigue ( Baumeister 2003 ; Sweller 2010 ; Vohs et al. 2014 ). To reiterate, research in the field of higher-order thinking often focuses on the failings of intuitive judgment ( Dwyer 2017 ; Hamm 1988 ) as being limited, misapplied, and, sometimes, yielding grossly incorrect responses—thus, leading to faulty reasoning and judgment as a result of systematic biases and errors ( Gilovich et al. 2002 ; Kahneman 2011 ; Kahneman et al. 1982 ; Slovic et al. 1977 ; Tversky and Kahneman 1974 ; in terms of schematic thinking ( Leventhal 1984 ), system 1 thinking ( Stanovich and West 2000 ; Kahneman 2011 ), miserly thinking ( Stanovich 2018 ) or even heuristics ( Kahneman and Frederick 2002 ; Tversky and Kahneman 1974 ). Nevertheless, it remains that such protocols are learned—not just through experience (as discussed below), but often through more ‘academic’ means. For example, consider again the anecdote above about learning to apply CT skills so well that it becomes like ‘second nature’. Such skills become a part of an individual’s ‘mindware’ ( Clark 2001 ; Stanovich 2018 ; Stanovich et al. 2016 ) and, in essence, become heuristics themselves. Though their application requires RJ for them to be CT, it does not mean that the responses yielded will be incorrect.

Moreover, despite the descriptions above, it would be incorrect, and a disservice to readers to imply that RJ is always right and intuitive judgment is always wrong, especially without consideration of the contextual issues—both intuitive and reflective judgments have the potential to be ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ with respect to validity, reasonableness or appropriateness. However, it must also be acknowledged that there is a cognitive ‘miserliness’ to depending on intuitive judgment, in which case, the ability to detect and override this dependence ( Stanovich 2018 )—consistent with RJ, is of utmost importance if we care about our decision-making. That is, if we care about our CT (see below for a more detailed discussion), we must ignore the implicit ‘noise’ associated with the intuitive judgment (regardless of whether or not it is ‘correct’) and, instead, apply the necessary RJ to ensure, as best we can, that the conclusion or solution is valid, reasonable or appropriate.

Although, such a recommendation is much easier said than done. One problem with relying on mental shortcuts afforded by intuition and heuristics is that they are largely experience-based protocols. Though that may sound like a positive thing, using ‘experience’ to draw a conclusion in a task that requires CT is erroneous because it essentially acts as ‘research’ based on a sample size of one; and so, ‘findings’ (i.e., one’s conclusion) cannot be generalised to the larger population—in this case, other contexts or problem-spaces ( Dwyer 2017 ). Despite this, we often over-emphasise the importance of experience in two related ways. First, people have a tendency to confuse experience for expertise (e.g., see the Dunning–KrugerEffect (i.e., the tendency for low-skilled individuals to overestimate their ability in tasks relevant to said skill and highly skilled individuals to underestimate their ability in tasks relevant to said skills); see also: ( Kruger and Dunning 1999 ; Mahmood 2016 ), wherein people may not necessarily be expert, rather they may just have a lot of experience completing a task imperfectly or wrong ( Dwyer and Walsh 2019 ; Hammond 1996 ; Kahneman 2011 ). Second, depending on the nature of the topic or problem, people often evaluate experience on par with research evidence (in terms of credibility), given its personalised nature, which is reinforced by self-serving bias(es).

When evaluating topics in domains wherein one lacks expertise, the need for intellectual integrity and humility ( Paul and Elder 2008 ) in their RJ is increased so that the individual may assess what knowledge is required to make a critically considered judgment. However, this is not necessarily a common response to a lack of relevant knowledge, given that when individuals are tasked with decision-making regarding a topic in which they do not possess relevant knowledge, these individuals will generally rely on emotional cues to inform their decision-making (e.g., Kahneman and Frederick 2002 ). Concerns here are not necessarily about the lack of domain-specific knowledge necessary to make an accurate decision, but rather the (1) belief of the individual that they have the knowledge necessary to make a critically thought-out judgment, even when this is not the case—again, akin to the Dunning–Kruger Effect ( Kruger and Dunning 1999 ); or (2) lack of willingness (i.e., disposition) to gain additional, relevant topic knowledge.

One final problem with relying on experience for important decisions, as alluded to above, is that when experience is engaged, it is not necessarily an objective recollection of the procedure. It can be accompanied by the individual’s beliefs, attitudes, and feelings—how that experience is recalled. The manner in which an individual draws on their personal experience, in light of these other factors, is inherently emotion-based and, likewise, biased (e.g., Croskerry et al. 2013 ; Loftus 2017 ; Paul 1993 ).

2.4. Bias and Emotion

Definitions of CT often reflect that it is to be applied to a topic, argument, or problem of importance that the individual cares about ( Dwyer 2017 ). The issue of ‘caring’ is important because it excludes judgment and decision-making in day-to-day scenarios that are not of great importance and do not warrant CT (e.g., ‘what colour pants best match my shirt’ and ‘what to eat for dinner’); again, for example, in an effort to conserve time and cognitive resources (e.g., Baumeister 2003 ; Sweller 2010 ). However, given that ‘importance’ is subjective, it essentially boils down to what one cares about (e.g., issues potentially impactful in one’s personal life; topics of personal importance to the individual; or even problems faced by an individual’s social group or work organisation (in which case, care might be more extrinsically-oriented). This is arguably one of the most difficult issues to resolve in CT application, given its contradictory nature—where it is generally recommended that CT should be conducted void of emotion and bias (as much as it can be possible), at the same time, it is also recommended that it should only be applied to things we care about. As a result, the manner in which care is conceptualised requires consideration. For example, in terms of CT, care can be conceptualised as ‘concern or interest; the attachment of importance to a person, place, object or concept; and serious attention or consideration applied to doing something correctly or to avoid damage or risk’; as opposed to some form of passion (e.g., intense, driving or over-powering feeling or conviction; emotions as distinguished from reason; a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object or concept). In this light, care could be argued as more of a dispositional or self-regulatory factor than emotional bias; thus, making it useful to CT. Though this distinction is important, the manner in which care is labeled does not lessen the potential for biased emotion to play a role in the thinking process. For example, it has been argued that if one cares about the decision they make or the conclusion they draw, then the individual will do their best to be objective as possible ( Dwyer 2017 ). However, it must also be acknowledged that this may not always be the case or even completely feasible (i.e., how can any decision be fully void of emotional input? )—though one may strive to be as objective as possible, such objectivity is not ensured given that implicit bias may infiltrate their decision-making (e.g., taking assumptions for granted as facts in filling gaps (unknowns) in a given problem-space). Consequently, such implicit biases may be difficult to amend, given that we may not be fully aware of them at play.

With that, explicit biases are just as concerning, despite our awareness of them. For example, the more important an opinion or belief is to an individual, the greater the resistance to changing their mind about it ( Rowe et al. 2015 ), even in light of evidence indicating the contrary ( Tavris and Aronson 2007 ). In some cases, the provision of information that corrects the flawed concept may even ‘backfire’ and reinforce the flawed or debunked stance ( Cook and Lewandowsky 2011 ). This cognitive resistance is an important barrier to CT to consider for obvious reasons—as a process; it acts in direct opposition to RJ, the skill of evaluation, as well as a number of requisite dispositions towards CT, including truth-seeking and open-mindedness (e.g., Dwyer et al. 2014 , 2016 ; Facione 1990 ); and at the same time, yields important real-world impacts (e.g., see Nyhan et al. 2014 ).

The notion of emotion impacting rational thought is by no means a novel concept. A large body of research indicates a negative impact of emotion on decision-making (e.g., Kahneman and Frederick 2002 ; Slovic et al. 2002 ; Strack et al. 1988 ), higher-order cognition ( Anticevic et al. 2011 ; Chuah et al. 2010 ; Denkova et al. 2010 ; Dolcos and McCarthy 2006 ) and cognition, more generally ( Iordan et al. 2013 ; Johnson et al. 2005 ; Most et al. 2005 ; Shackman et al. 2006 ) 2 . However, less attention has specifically focused on emotion’s impact on the application of critical thought. This may be a result of assumptions that if a person is inclined to think critically, then what is yielded will typically be void of emotion—which is true to a certain extent. However, despite the domain generality of CT ( Dwyer 2011 , 2017 ; Dwyer and Eigenauer 2017 ; Dwyer et al. 2015 ; Gabennesch 2006 ; Halpern 2014 ), the likelihood of emotional control during the CT process remains heavily dependent on the topic of application. Consider again, for example; there is no guarantee that an individual who generally applies CT to important topics or situations will do so in all contexts. Indeed, depending on the nature of the topic or the problem faced, an individual’s mindware ( Clark 2001 ; Stanovich 2018 ; Stanovich et al. 2016 ; consistent with the metacognitive nature of CT) and the extent to which a context can evoke emotion in the thinker will influence what and how thinking is applied. As addressed above, if the topic is something to which the individual feels passionate, then it will more likely be a greater challenge for them to remain unbiased and develop a reasonably objective argument or solution.

Notably, self-regulation is an important aspect of both RJ and CT ( Dwyer 2017 ; Dwyer et al. 2014 ), and, in this context, it is difficult not to consider the role emotional intelligence might play in the relationship between affect and CT. For example, though there are a variety of conceptualisations of emotional intelligence (e.g., Bar-On 2006 ; Feyerherm and Rice 2002 ; Goleman 1995 ; Salovey and Mayer 1990 ; Schutte et al. 1998 ), the underlying thread among these is that, similar to the concept of self-regulation, emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to monitor (e.g., perceive, understand and regulate) one’s own feelings, as well as those of others, and to use this information to guide relevant thinking and behaviour. Indeed, extant research indicates that there is a positive association between EI and CT (e.g., Afshar and Rahimi 2014 ; Akbari-Lakeh et al. 2018 ; Ghanizadeh and Moafian 2011 ; Kaya et al. 2017 ; Stedman and Andenoro 2007 ; Yao et al. 2018 ). To shed light upon this relationship, Elder ( 1997 ) addressed the potential link between CT and EI through her description of the latter as a measure of the extent to which affective responses are rationally-based , in which reasonable desires and behaviours emerge from such rationally-based emotions. Though there is extant research on the links between CT and EI, it is recommended that future research further elaborate on this relationship, as well as with other self-regulatory processes, in an effort to further establish the potentially important role that EI might play within CT.

3. Discussion

3.1. interpretations.

Given difficulties in the past regarding the conceptualisation of CT ( Dwyer et al. 2014 ), efforts have been made to be as specific and comprehensive as possible when discussing CT in the literature to ensure clarity and accuracy. However, it has been argued that such efforts have actually added to the complexity of CT’s conceptualisation and had the opposite effect on clarity and, perhaps, more importantly, the accessibility and practical usefulness for educators (and students) not working in the research area. As a result, when asked what CT is, I generally follow up the ‘long definition’, in light of past research, with a much simpler description: CT is akin to ‘playing devil’s advocate’. That is, once a claim is made, one should second-guess it in as many conceivable ways as possible, in a process similar to the Socratic Method. Through asking ‘why’ and conjecturing alternatives, we ask the individual—be it another person or even ourselves—to justify the decision-making. It keeps the thinker ‘honest’, which is particularly useful if we’re questioning ourselves. If we do not have justifiable reason(s) for why we think or intend to act in a particular way (above and beyond considered objections), then it should become obvious that we either missed something or we are biased. It is perhaps this simplified description of CT that gives such impetus for the aim of this review.

Whereas extant frameworks often discuss the importance of CT skills, dispositions, and, to a lesser extent, RJ and other self-regulatory functions of CT, they do so with respect to components of CT or processes that facilitate CT (e.g., motivation, executive functions, and dispositions), without fully encapsulating cognitive processes and other factors that may hinder it (e.g., emotion, bias, intuitive judgment and a lack of epistemological understanding or engagement). With that, this review is neither a criticism of existing CT frameworks nor is it to imply that CT has so many barriers that it cannot be taught well, nor does it claim to be a complete list of processes that can impede CT (see again Note 1). To reiterate, education in CT can yield beneficial effects ( Abrami et al. 2008 , 2015 ; Dwyer 2017 ; Dwyer and Eigenauer 2017 ); however, such efficacy may be further enhanced by presenting students and individuals interested in CT the barriers they are likely to face in its application; explaining how these barriers manifest and operate; and offer potential strategies for overcoming them.

3.2. Further Implications and Future Research

Though the barriers addressed here are by no means new to the arena of research in higher-order cognition, there is a novelty in their collated discussion as impactful barriers in the context of CT, particularly with respect to extant CT research typically focusing on introducing strategies and skills for enhancing CT, rather than identifying ‘preventative measures’ for barriers that can negatively impact CT. Nevertheless, future research is necessary to address how such barriers can be overcome in the context of CT. As addressed above, it is recommended that CT education include discussion of these barriers and encourage self-regulation against them; and, given the vast body of CT research focusing on enhancement through training and education, it seems obvious to make such a recommendation in this context. However, it is also recognised that simply identifying these barriers and encouraging people to engage in RJ and self-regulation to combat them may not suffice. For example, educators might very well succeed in teaching students how to apply CT skills , but just as these educators may not be able to motivate students to use them as often as they might be needed or even to value such skills (such as in attempting to elicit a positive disposition towards CT), it might be the case that without knowing about the impact of the discussed barriers to CT (e.g., emotion and/or intuitive judgment), students may be just as susceptible to biases in their attempts to think critically as others without CT skills. Thus, what such individuals might be applying is not CT at all; rather, just a series of higher-order cognitive skills from a biased or emotion-driven perspective. As a result, a genuine understanding of these barriers is necessary for individuals to appropriately self-regulate their thinking.

Moreover, though the issues of epistemological beliefs, bias, emotion, and intuitive processes are distinct in the manner in which they can impact CT, these do not have set boundaries; thus, an important implication is that they can overlap. For example, epistemological understanding can influence how individuals make decisions in real-world scenarios, such as through intuiting a judgment in social situations (i.e., without considering the nature of the knowledge behind the decision, the manner in which such knowledge interacts [e.g., correlation v. causation], the level of uncertainty regarding both the decision-maker’s personal stance and the available evidence), when a situation might actually require further consideration or even the honest response of ‘I don’t know’. The latter concept—that of simply responding ‘I don’t know’ is interesting to consider because though it seems, on the surface, to be inconsistent with CT and its outcomes, it is commensurate with many of its associated components (e.g., intellectual honesty and humility; see Paul and Elder 2008 ). In the context this example is used, ‘I don’t know’ refers to epistemological understanding. With that, it may also be impacted by bias and emotion. For example, depending on the topic, an individual may be likely to respond ‘I don’t know’ when they do not have the relevant knowledge or evidence to provide a sufficient answer. However, in the event that the topic is something the individual is emotionally invested in or feels passionate about, an opinion or belief may be shared instead of ‘I don’t know’ (e.g., Kahneman and Frederick 2002 ), despite a lack of requisite evidence-based knowledge (e.g., Kruger and Dunning 1999 ). An emotional response based on belief may be motivated in the sense that the individual knows that they do not know for sure and simply uses a belief to support their reasoning as a persuasive tool. On the other hand, the emotional response based on belief might be used simply because the individual may not know that the use of a belief is an insufficient means of supporting their perspective– instead, they might think that their intuitive, belief-based judgment is as good as a piece of empirical evidence; thus, suggesting a lack of empirical understanding. With that, it is fair to say that though epistemological understanding, intuitive judgment, emotion, and bias are distinct concepts, they can influence each other in real-world CT and decision-making. Though there are many more examples of how this might occur, the one presented may further support the recommendation that education can be used to overcome some of the negative effects associated with the barriers presented.

For example, in Ireland, students are not generally taught about academic referencing until they reach third-level education. Anecdotally, I was taught about referencing at age 12 and had to use it all the way through high school when I was growing up in New York. In the context of these referencing lessons, we were taught about the credibility of sources, as well as how analyse and evaluate arguments and subsequently infer conclusions in light of these sources (i.e., CT skills). We were motivated by our teacher to find the ‘truth’ as best we could (i.e., a fundament of CT disposition). Now, I recognise that this experience cannot be generalised to larger populations, given that I am a sample size of one, but I do look upon such education, perhaps, as a kind of transformative learning experience ( Casey 2018 ; King 2009 ; Mezirow 1978 , 1990 ) in the sense that such education might have provided a basis for both CT and epistemological understanding. For CT, we use research to support our positions, hence the importance of referencing. When a ‘reference’ is not available, one must ask if there is actual evidence available to support the proposition. If there is not, one must question the basis for why they think or believe that their stance is correct—that is, where there is logic to the reasoning or if the proposition is simply an emotion- or bias-based intuitive judgment. So, in addition to referencing, the teaching of some form of epistemology—perhaps early in children’s secondary school careers, might benefit students in future efforts to overcome some barriers to CT. Likewise, presenting examples of the observable impact that bias, emotions, and intuitive thought can have on their thinking might also facilitate overcoming these barriers.

As addressed above, it is acknowledged that we may not be able to ‘teach’ people not to be biased or emotionally driven in their thinking because it occurs naturally ( Kahneman 2011 )—regardless of how ‘skilled’ one might be in CT. For example, though research suggests that components of CT, such as disposition, can improve over relatively short periods of time (e.g., over the duration of a semester-long course; Rimiene 2002 ), less is known about how such components have been enhanced (given the difficulty often associated with trying to teach something like disposition ( Dwyer 2017 ); i.e., to reiterate, it is unlikely that simply ‘teaching’ (or telling) students to be motivated towards CT or to value it (or its associated concepts) will actually enhance it over short periods of time (e.g., semester-long training). Nevertheless, it is reasonable to suggest that, in light of such research, educators can encourage dispositional growth and provide opportunities to develop it. Likewise, it is recommended that educators encourage students to be aware of the cognitive barriers discussed and provide chances to engage in CT scenarios where such barriers are likely to play a role, thus, giving students opportunities to acknowledge the barriers and practice overcoming them. Moreover, making students aware of such barriers at younger ages—in a simplified manner, may promote the development of personal perspectives and approaches that are better able to overcome the discussed barriers to CT. This perspective is consistent with research on RJ ( Dwyer et al. 2015 ), in which it was recommended that such enhancement requires not only time to develop (be it over the course of a semester or longer) but is also a function of having increased opportunities to engage CT. In the possibilities described, individuals may learn both to overcome barriers to CT and from the positive outcomes of applying CT; and, perhaps, engage in some form of transformative learning ( Casey 2018 ; King 2009 ; Mezirow 1978 , 1990 ) that facilitates an enhanced ‘valuing’ of and motivation towards CT. For example, through growing an understanding of the nature of epistemology, intuitive-based thinking, emotion, bias, and the manner in which people often succumb to faulty reasoning in light of these, individuals may come to better understand the limits of knowledge, barriers to CT and how both understandings can be applied; thus, growing further appreciation of the process as it is needed.

To reiterate, research suggests that there may be a developmental trajectory above and beyond the parameters of a semester-long training course that is necessary to develop the RJ necessary to think critically and, likewise, engage an adequate epistemological stance and self-regulate against impeding cognitive processes ( Dwyer et al. 2015 ). Though such research suggests that such development may not be an issue of time, but rather the amount of opportunities to engage RJ and CT, there is a dearth of recommendations offered with respect to how this could be performed in practice. Moreover, the how and what regarding ‘opportunities for engagement’ requires further investigation as well. For example, does this require additional academic work outside the classroom in a formal manner, or does it require informal ‘exploration’ of the world of information on one’s own? If the latter, the case of motivational and dispositional levels once again comes into question; thus, even further consideration is needed. One way or another, future research efforts are necessary to identify how best to make individuals aware of barriers to CT, encourage them to self-regulate against them, and identify means of increasing opportunities to engage RJ and CT.

4. Conclusions

Taking heed that it is unnecessary to reinvent the CT wheel ( Eigenauer 2017 ), the aim of this review was to further elaborate on the processes associated with CT and make a valuable contribution to its literature with respect to conceptualisation—not just in light of making people explicitly aware of what it is, but also what it is not and how it can be impeded (e.g., through inadequate CT skills and dispositions; epistemological misunderstanding; intuitive judgment; as well as bias and emotion)—a perspective consistent with that of ‘constructive feedback’ wherein students need to know both what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. This review further contributes to the CT education literature by identifying the importance of (1) engaging understanding of the nature, limits, and certainty of knowing as individuals traverse the landscape of evidence-bases in their research and ‘truth-seeking’; (2) understanding how emotions and biases can affect CT, regardless of the topic; (3) managing gut-level intuition until RJ has been appropriately engaged; and (4) the manner in which language is used to convey meaning to important and/or abstract concepts (e.g., ‘caring’, ‘proof’, causation/correlation, etc.). Consistent with the perspectives on research advancement presented in this review, it is acknowledged that the issues addressed here may not be complete and may themselves be advanced upon and updated in time; thus, future research is recommended and welcomed to improve and further establish our working conceptualisation of critical thinking, particularly in a real-world application.


The author would like to acknowledge, with great thanks and appreciation, John Eigenauer (Taft College) for his consult, review and advice regarding earlier versions of this manuscript.

Funding Statement

This research received no external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Data availability statement, conflicts of interest.

The author declares no conflict of interest.

1 Notably, though inadequacies in cognitive resources (apart from those explicitly set within the conceptualisations of CT discussed; e.g., see Section 2.1 ) are acknowledged as impediments to one’s ability to apply CT (e.g., a lack of relevant background knowledge, as well as broader cognitive abilities and resources ( Dwyer 2017 ; Halpern 2014 ; Stanovich and Stanovich 2010 )), these will not be discussed as focus is largely restricted to issues of cognitive processes that ‘naturally’ act as barriers in their functioning. Moreover, such inadequacies may more so be issues of individual differences than ongoing issues that everyone , regardless of ability, would face in CT (e.g., the impact of emotion and bias). Nevertheless, it is recommended that future research further investigates the influence of such inadequacies in cognitive resources on CT.

2 There is also some research that suggests that emotion may mediate enhanced cognition ( Dolcos et al. 2011 , 2012 ). However, this discrepancy in findings may result from the types of emotion studied—such as task-relevant emotion and task-irrelevant emotion. The distinction between the two is important to consider in terms of, for example, the distinction between one’s general mood and feelings specific unto the topic under consideration. Though mood may play a role in the manner in which CT is conducted (e.g., making judgments about a topic one is passionate about may elicit positive or negative emotions that affect the thinker’s mood in some way), notably, this discussion focuses on task-relevant emotion and associated biases that negatively impact the CT process. This is also an important distinction because an individual may generally think critically about ‘important’ topics, but may fail to do so when faced with a cognitive task that requires CT with which the individual has a strong, emotional perspective (e.g., in terms of passion , as described above).

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Magnetic Memory Method – How to Memorize With A Memory Palace

9 Deadly Critical Thinking Barriers (And How to Eliminate Them)

Anthony Metivier | November 9, 2023 | Podcast , Thinking

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9 deadly critical thinking barriers feature image

The answer is simple:

It’s because they’re lurking inside you. 

And if you don’t know that these barriers are standing between you and exploding your thinking abilities, you’re powerless to improve your situation.

Starting right now, let’s identify and remove the biggest barriers. 

You’ll experience greater clarity of mind just by knowing what they are and how to get them out of your life. 

Let’s dive in.

The 9 Most Common Barriers to Critical Thinking (And How to Overcome Them)

As you go through this list, keep a journal.

Write down the ones that pose the biggest issue for you.

Then make time on your calendar to deal with each. 

Rest assured, without putting in the time, nothing will change.

But when you do, your independent thinking abilities will explode. In fact, your critical thinking abilities will improve overall .

One: Letting The World Revolve Around You

Most of us experience inner talk .  And it’s normal to include yourself and your experiences in the topics you think about.

But those who have excellent critical thinking skills know how to contextualize their SRIN. 

What is SRIN?

Self-referential Inner Narrative. 

Others call this the “blah blah blah” monkey-mind.

blah blah blah

No matter what you call it, if you can’t think about contexts larger than your immediate self, it will be impossible to think critically. 

Here’s what to do instead: 

  • Notice when you say or think things like, “I don’t personally know anyone this has happened to.” 
  • Stop and think about the larger context at the level of your neighborhood, your city, your region, your country, your continent, your hemisphere and the world. Where relevant, include the entire universe.
  • Imagine a topic through the eyes of at least one other person. In autobiographical memory studies, this is called shifting from the field perspective to the observer perspective.
  • Ask about what would be true even if you did not exist. 

For more help, these critical thinking examples will help you think through other perspectives.

Two: Lack Of Critical Thinking Skills

If you want to remove the obstacles to critical thinking you’re experiencing, some study will be involved. 

Critical thinking books abound and it is worth spending time with some of the best. Look for books that include examples and exercises . 

a student walking with some books

You’ll also want to think about a particular goal for critical thinking that you have. For example, do you want to think better as a student preparing for law school? Or do you need thinking skills for being a better contributor to your family or neighborhood? 

Setting a goal can help guide which resources you choose and your study and practice plan . 

Three: Not Knowing Your Cognitive Biases

We are all included to make serious errors in our thinking.

But we’re not alone in making them. Far from it. 

In fact, because all of us operate from having a human brain, psychologists have identified patterns.

These are called cognitive biases .

One that I suffer from quite badly is called “ recency bias .” Basically, it’s very tempting for me to judge reality based on the most recent events, rather than looking at the broad scope of history.

I use all of the tips on this page to cope and improve. One of the most helpful benefits of critical thinking is the ability to engage in continual discussions with friends about history. It’s something I continue to read for one simple reason.

a long history castle

The more you know and discuss the past, the more you are automatically reminded of a bias like this.

What cognitive biases are strongest in your life? 

Four: Being In A Hurry

We’re all in a rush once in a while. 

But it’s one of the biggest critical thinking challenges all the same. 

If you don’t stop and think, mistakes are so much easier to make. 

One of my favorite tools for making sure I don’t rush into making decisions without thinking about them is called W.R.A.P.

  • Widen Your Options
  • Reality Test
  • Attain Distance
  • Prepare To Fail

As can see, it has tools in it to help you slow down.

It’s also a superior alternative to “trusting your gut.” In fact, Chip and Dan Heath who came up with it in their book Decisive did a lot of research on it for the book. 

They show that relying on gut instinct is often very harmful. (And it’s often a cognitive bias that drives us to rely on it anyway.)

How do you remember to use the W.R.A.P. technique? You need to get thinking about it deep into your procedural memory . 

For that, a Memory Palace will help. Grab this free course so you know how to create and use one:

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Five: Lack Of Scientific Literacy

Unfortunately, a lot of people leave school not knowing how to evaluate research. They often have limited numeracy skills.

They also barely understand some of the core principles of science, such as:

  • Sampling and generalizability
  • Probability and coincidence
  • Correlation and causation
  • Differentiating fact from opinion
  • Logical reasoning

To remove these barriers from your life, make sure to learn what science is really all about. This is the kind of understanding that can help save your life as you think better. And the best part is that it will boost your concentration skills, something far too many people lack .

Six: Exhaustion

Of all the most common barriers to critical thinking, not being well rested destroys our decision-making abilities. 

Sleep and memory go together, and we need to remember to think critically in the first place. Please be sure to privilege your rest. 

a women is sleeping on a blue pillow

Seven: Lack Of Communication Skills

Thinking is more than a two-way street. It’s a complex network of many freeways, highways, streets and cul de sacs.

You need to communicate with many people and you need to do it well. 

Some people don’t have a big enough vocabulary, so need to learn how to remember more words .

Others lack writing skills.

Yet others are not yet able to read fast enough so that they can talk and write enough to effectively communicate.

One way to improve in all these areas is to create a 90-day research and communication goal. 

For example, I spent 90-days learning about the art of memory in the sixteenth century. To practice building my communication skills, I spoke with many people about it, wrote frequently and read the suggestions I got from others. 

To remove your critical thinking barriers, spend the next 90 days reading about it. Find a philosophy discussion group. Start a blog or journal privately about what you’re learning.

It will help you tremendously.

a discussion group

Eight: Fear Of Failure

A lot of people are so afraid to make mistakes that they never take action. 

Well, critical thinking is itself an action. If you never get started, you won’t be able to learn from the mistakes you will inevitably make. 

This barrier circles us back to the problem of the ego and SRIN. You might be overly protective of yourself because you’re stuck in a self-referential loop.

How to get past this comes down to:

  • Recognizing the issue
  • Committing to get past it
  • Setting a plan for when you’re going to start taking risks

One quick win would be to join a debate club. This will give you meeting deadlines and specific topics for which you need to be prepared. You’ll have removed this common barrier in no time.

Nine: Inability To Improvise

Of all the critical thinking strategies out there, you need to be able to think on your feet. 

One of the reasons people fear failure so much is that they’re just not used to opening their mouths, making mistakes and being able to pivot. 

open the mouth

I’ve learned to do this by giving lots of speeches from memory and other kinds of presentations. 

And I’ve also learned and memorized a lot about logic and philosophy , in more than just one language.

Spend some time learning a language to break through this barrier. Practicing speaking in a new language will give you verbal dexterity that improves your ability to improvise in your mother tongue. 

The Best Time To Remove Your Barriers Was Yesterday

Thanks for reading this post.

There are obviously more barriers than the ones we’ve gone over today, but as you can see, the nine I’ve listed are massive.

My suggestion?

Get started on just one at a time.

Follow-up with the resources I’ve provided.

Familiarize yourself with those cognitive biases and improve your science literacy. 

And if you want to get started practicing your writing skills, feel free to post your thoughts in the comments below.

And if you ever spot me suffering from issues in my thinking, please let me know. I always want to improve!

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Last modified: November 9, 2023

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Wesley Cherisien

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Barriers to Critical Thinking & How To Unlock Your Mind’s Full Potential

Thinking critically is a skill that many people aim to perfect. It involves analyzing and evaluating an issue or situation deeply and objectively to form a judgment. It’s not just about solving problems but also about making decisions, understanding the connections between ideas, and even identifying, constructing, and evaluating arguments.

Critical thinking is not just beneficial; it’s necessary for our survival. We use critical thinking skills in our daily lives when making decisions – from what to have for breakfast to which route to take to work. It’s especially important in today’s world, where misinformation, disinformation, and biased information are rampant. Being able to critically assess the information we come across is key to making informed decisions.

What you will learn in this guide:

  • Understanding the Barriers: Dive into the obstacles that hinder our ability to think critically, from cognitive biases to emotional barriers, and even social influences.
  • Strategies to Overcome: Uncover various strategies to bypass these barriers and unlock your mind’s full potential.
  • Developing a Critical Thinking Mindset: Learn practical tips for developing a mindset that naturally gravitates towards critical thinking.

In this guide, we will delve deep into the barriers to critical thinking, the strategies to overcome them, and tips for developing a critical thinking mindset. Let’s get started on this journey towards unlocking your mind’s full potential.

Understanding Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a term that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean? At its core, critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally about what to do or what to believe. It includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking. In other words, it’s about being active, not passive, in your thought process.

Importance of Critical Thinking

Why is critical thinking so important? For starters, it helps us make better decisions. By analyzing and evaluating all the available information, we can make more informed and rational choices. It also helps us solve problems more effectively because we can identify and analyze the issue at hand, consider all possible solutions, and then select the most appropriate one. Additionally, critical thinking helps us understand and challenge our beliefs and assumptions, leading to personal growth and development . Ultimately, critical thinking is essential for improving ourselves and the world around us.

Key Components of Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a multifaceted skill that involves several key components:

  • Analysis: This involves examining information in detail and breaking it down into its component parts to understand its structure and meaning.
  • Evaluation: This involves assessing the credibility and strength of the information and arguments presented.
  • Inference: This involves drawing conclusions from the information available, even when it is not explicitly stated.
  • Interpretation: This involves understanding and explaining the meaning of information or a particular situation.
  • Explanation: This involves stating the results of one’s reasoning and justifying that reasoning.

Common Barriers to Critical Thinking

Despite its importance, several barriers can hinder our ability to think critically.

Being aware of these barriers is the first step towards overcoming them.

Here are some common ones:

Cognitive Biases

Our brains are wired to take shortcuts, which often leads to cognitive biases. These are systematic patterns of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment.

Emotional Barriers

Emotions play a significant role in decision-making. However, they can also be a barrier to critical thinking. For example, if we feel strongly about a particular issue, we may ignore or dismiss information that contradicts our beliefs. It’s essential to be aware of our emotions and not let them cloud our judgment.

Intellectual Laziness

Thinking critically requires effort. It’s much easier to accept information at face value or go along with what everyone else is doing. However, this intellectual laziness can lead to poor decisions and a lack of personal growth.

Conformity and Groupthink

Humans are social creatures, and we often seek approval from others. This can lead to conformity and groupthink, where we go along with the group even if it goes against our judgment. This can stifle creativity and independent thought.

Assumptions and Overgeneralizations

We often make assumptions about people, situations, or information without having all the facts.

Similarly, we tend to overgeneralize from a single instance to a broader conclusion. These habits can lead to misunderstandings and faulty conclusions.

By being aware of these barriers and actively working to overcome them, we can improve our critical thinking skills and make better decisions.

The Impact of Barriers on Decision Making

Critical thinking is crucial for effective decision-making. It allows us to evaluate information objectively, consider different perspectives, and make well-informed decisions. However, the barriers to critical thinking can significantly impact our decisions.

The Role of Critical Thinking in Decision-Making

Critical thinking involves evaluating information and arguments in a balanced way. It means not just accepting everything we hear or read but questioning it, analyzing it, and determining its validity. This process helps us make decisions that are logical, well-thought-out, and less likely to be influenced by emotions or biases.

How Barriers to Critical Thinking Affect Decisions

The barriers to critical thinking, such as cognitive biases, emotional barriers, and intellectual laziness, can lead to poor decisions. Similarly, emotional barriers can cause us to make decisions based on our feelings rather than objective facts. For example, if we are angry at someone, we may make a decision to spite them rather than considering what is best for the situation.

Real-life Examples of the Impact of These Barriers

A classic example of the impact of barriers to critical thinking is the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. The decision-makers involved were victims of groupthink, a phenomenon where a group of people strive for consensus at the expense of critically evaluating alternative viewpoints. This led to a flawed decision-making process and, ultimately, a failed mission.

Another example is the financial crisis of 2008. Many financial experts and investors ignored warning signs and made decisions based on overconfidence and a lack of critical analysis. This led to disastrous consequences for the global economy.

By being aware of the barriers to critical thinking and actively working to overcome them, we can make better decisions in both our personal and professional lives.

Strategies to Overcome Barriers

To become better critical thinkers and make better decisions, it’s essential to recognize and overcome the barriers to critical thinking. Here are some strategies that can help:

Recognizing and Acknowledging Barriers

The first step in overcoming any barrier is to recognize and acknowledge its existence. This may involve some self-reflection and an honest assessment of our own thinking processes. For example,  are we making assumptions without questioning them?

Developing a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is the belief that our abilities and intelligence can be developed with practice and effort. This mindset encourages us to view challenges as opportunities to learn and grow rather than obstacles to be avoided. By developing a growth mindset , we can become more open to new ideas and perspectives, which is essential for overcoming barriers to critical thinking.

Enhancing Self-Awareness and Emotional Intelligence

Self-awareness is the ability to recognize and understand our own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage and use our emotions in positive ways. By enhancing our self-awareness and emotional intelligence, we can become more aware of the emotional barriers that may be affecting our thinking and decision-making.

Practicing Mindfulness and Reflection

Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Reflection involves taking time to think about our thoughts, feelings, and actions. By practicing mindfulness and reflection, we can become more aware of our thought processes and identify any barriers that may be affecting our critical thinking.

Seeking Diverse Perspectives and Challenging Assumptions

Seeking out diverse perspectives and challenging our own assumptions is essential for overcoming barriers to critical thinking. This may involve actively seeking out people with different viewpoints, reading articles or books that challenge our existing beliefs, or engaging in debates or discussions that encourage us to think critically about our own assumptions.

By actively working to overcome these barriers, we can become better critical thinkers and make better decisions in our personal and professional lives.

Tips for Developing a Critical Thinking Mindset

Developing a critical thinking mindset is not just about overcoming barriers; it’s also about actively cultivating positive habits that encourage critical thinking. Here are some tips that can help you develop a critical thinking mindset:

Creating a Conducive Environment for Critical Thinking

Our environment plays a significant role in shaping our thinking. Create an environment that encourages critical thinking by surrounding yourself with intellectually stimulating materials, engaging in meaningful conversations, and minimizing distractions.

Regularly Engaging in Critical Thinking Exercises

Like any skill, critical thinking improves with practice. Regularly engage in exercises that challenge your thinking, such as solving puzzles, analyzing case studies, or debating controversial topics.

Adopting a Questioning Attitude

Adopt an attitude of curiosity and skepticism. Question everything, including your own assumptions and beliefs. Ask questions such as, “What is the evidence for this?” “Are there alternative explanations?” “What are the implications of this?”

Being Open to New Ideas and Perspectives

Being open-minded is essential for critical thinking. Actively seek out new ideas and perspectives, and be willing to change your mind when presented with compelling evidence.

Continually Seeking Self-Improvement

Critical thinking is a journey, not a destination. Continually seek to improve your thinking by seeking feedback, reflecting on your experiences, and actively working to overcome your biases and assumptions.

By actively cultivating a critical thinking mindset, you can improve your decision-making and problem-solving skills , both in your personal and professional life.

Final Thoughts

Overcoming the barriers to critical thinking is of utmost importance in today’s world, where we are constantly bombarded with information, misinformation, and disinformation. Developing a critical thinking mindset is not just about overcoming these barriers; it’s about actively cultivating a mindset that enables us to make better decisions, solve problems more effectively, and lead more fulfilling lives.

We encourage you to actively work on developing your critical thinking mindset by recognizing and acknowledging your barriers, developing a growth mindset, enhancing your self-awareness and emotional intelligence, practicing mindfulness and reflection, seeking diverse perspectives, and challenging your assumptions. Remember, critical thinking is a journey, not a destination, and it requires continuous effort and practice.

We hope that this article has provided you with valuable insights and practical tips for overcoming the barriers to critical thinking and developing a critical thinking mindset. We encourage you to apply the strategies and tips shared in this article to your daily life and to continually seek self-improvement.

Recap: Key Points Discussed in this Article

  • Understanding Critical Thinking: Critical thinking is the process of actively analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating information to make better decisions, solve problems, and understand the world around us.
  • Common Barriers to Critical Thinking: Cognitive biases, emotional barriers, intellectual laziness, conformity and groupthink, and assumptions and overgeneralizations are common barriers that hinder our ability to think critically.
  • The Impact of Barriers on Decision Making: Barriers to critical thinking affect our decisions by limiting our ability to accurately assess situations, consider alternative perspectives, and make well-informed choices.
  • Strategies to Overcome Barriers: Recognizing and acknowledging barriers, developing a growth mindset, enhancing self-awareness and emotional intelligence, practicing mindfulness and reflection, seeking diverse perspectives, and challenging assumptions are key strategies for overcoming barriers to critical thinking.
  • Tips for Developing a Critical Thinking Mindset: Creating a conducive environment for critical thinking, regularly engaging in critical thinking exercises, adopting a questioning attitude, being open to new ideas and perspectives, and continually seeking self-improvement are essential tips for developing a critical thinking mindset.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. If you have any questions or would like further guidance, please do not hesitate to reach out. Remember, the journey to developing a critical thinking mindset is a continuous one, and we are here to support you along the way.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is it so hard to overcome cognitive biases?

Cognitive biases are deeply ingrained mental shortcuts that our brains have developed over time to help us make quick decisions without having to analyze every piece of information consciously. These biases often operate in the background, without our conscious awareness, making them difficult to recognize and overcome. Additionally, acknowledging our biases requires a level of self-awareness and self-criticism that can be uncomfortable for many people.

How can I develop a growth mindset?

Developing a growth mindset involves recognizing and challenging your fixed mindset beliefs, embracing challenges, seeing efforts as a path to mastery, learning from criticism, and being inspired by others’ success. It’s essential to practice self-awareness, be open to feedback, and focus on self-improvement rather than comparing yourself to others.

Why is it important to seek diverse perspectives?

Seeking diverse perspectives is crucial for overcoming barriers to critical thinking because it helps us challenge our assumptions, consider alternative viewpoints, and avoid groupthink. It allows us to see the world from different angles, understand the complexities of a situation, and make better-informed decisions.

How can I practice mindfulness and reflection?

Practicing mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. You can practice mindfulness through meditation, deep breathing exercises, or simply by being fully present in your daily activities. Reflection involves taking time to think about your thoughts, feelings, and actions, and considering how they affect your well-being and the people around you. You can practice reflection by keeping a journal, setting aside time for self-reflection, or engaging in activities that encourage introspection, such as reading or spending time in nature.

What are some examples of critical thinking exercises?

Some examples of critical thinking exercises include analyzing a piece of writing or a situation from different perspectives, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of an argument, solving complex problems that require creative thinking, and engaging in debates or discussions that encourage you to consider alternative viewpoints and challenge your assumptions.

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6 Steps to Beat Common Critical Thinking Barriers at Work

Why is critical thinking difficult, what are the 6 barriers to critical thinking, how to overcome critical thinking barriers as a manager, what are fallacies , what are critical thinking fallacies.

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  • It requires effort: Critical thinking requires a conscious effort to analyze information, evaluate arguments, and make logical and informed decisions. This can be mentally taxing and time-consuming.
  • It goes against intuition: Critical thinking often requires us to question our assumptions, beliefs, and biases and to consider alternative perspectives that may challenge our preconceived notions. This can be uncomfortable and may need us to change our thinking or behavior.
  • Emotions can influence it: Emotions can influence our thinking and decision-making, leading us to make biased or irrational judgments. Critical thinking requires us to recognize and regulate our emotions to ensure that our review is objective and rational.
  • It requires knowledge and skills: Critical thinking requires knowledge of the relevant subject matter and the ability to apply logical reasoning and analytical skills. Without these skills, it can be challenging to evaluate information and make informed decisions.
  • It can be affected by external factors: Critical thinking can be influenced by external factors such as social and cultural norms, group dynamics, and the media. These factors can create biases and limit our ability to think critically.

Confirmation bias

Emotional bias, limited knowledge or information, time constraints, social or cultural bias.

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  • Be aware of biases: Recognize and acknowledge your own preferences and assumptions. This will help you to evaluate information objectively and consider alternative perspectives.
  • Seek out diverse perspectives: Expose yourself to a variety of viewpoints and opinions. This can help you to challenge your own beliefs and assumptions and to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the subject matter.
  • Ask questions: Question everything, including your assumptions and the assumptions of others. Ask questions to clarify information, identify underlying assumptions, and evaluate arguments.
  • Analyze information: Take the time to analyze data and evaluate arguments. Use critical thinking skills, such as logic and reasoning, to assess the validity and reliability of the information.
  • Consider the context: Consider the context in which information is presented. Be aware of external factors that may influence your thinking, such as social and cultural norms, group dynamics, and the media.
  • Practice: Critical thinking is a skill that can be developed and improved with practice. Make a conscious effort to think critically in your daily life, whether it is at work, in your personal life, or in the media you consume.
  • Ad hominem fallacy: Attacking the character or personal traits of an individual rather than addressing the substance of their argument. For example, “I can’t believe anything he says; he’s a known liar.”
  • Appeal to authority fallacy: Supporting an idea with an authority figure rather than presenting evidence or logical reasoning. For example, “Dr. Smith says that this treatment is effective, so it must be true.”
  • False cause fallacy: Assuming that one event caused another simply because it happened before the second event. For example, “I wore my lucky socks, and we won the game, so my socks must have caused the win.”
  • Straw man fallacy: Misrepresenting an opponent’s argument to make it easier to attack. For example, “My opponent thinks we should do nothing about climate change, which is ridiculous.”
  • Slippery slope fallacy: Suggesting that one event will inevitably lead to a chain of events without presenting evidence or logical reasoning. For example, “If we allow gay marriage, next we’ll be allowing people to marry animals.”
  • False dichotomy fallacy: Presenting an argument as if there are only two options when in fact, there are more. For example, “Either you’re with us, or you’re against us.”
  • Hasty generalization fallacy: Making a generalization based on insufficient or unrepresentative evidence. For example, “I met one rude French person, so all French people must be rude.”
  • Red herring fallacy: Introducing an unrelated topic to distract from the main argument. For example, “I know my proposal is controversial, but what about all the good things I’ve done for this company?”
  • Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy: Assuming that one event caused another simply because it happened after the first event. For example, “I took this pill, and then my cold went away, so the pill must have cured my cold.”
  • False analogy fallacy: Comparing two things that are not similar enough to support the conclusion drawn. For example, “Driving a car is like flying a plane, so if you can do one, you can do the other.

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Aastha Bensla

Aastha, a passionate industrial psychologist, writer, and counselor, brings her unique expertise to Risely. With specialized knowledge in industrial psychology, Aastha offers a fresh perspective on personal and professional development. Her broad experience as an industrial psychologist enables her to accurately understand and solve problems for managers and leaders with an empathetic approach.

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11 Common Barriers To Critical Thinking – A Simple Guide

Critical thinking is the capacity to think in a clear and rational way . It’s a perspective related to what one should do and what one believes.

But what makes critical thinking a harder task to do. There are some barriers that come in the way of critical thinking.

Critical thinking is just not about collecting information. If you have a good IQ and know a lot of things, you can totally nail it.

A person can do critical thinking only if he can conclude results from his knowledge.

11 Most Common Barriers To Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a skill that everyone should have. It helps you make decisions and solve problems, but it can be difficult to use when there are barriers in your way.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about the most common barriers to critical thinking and how you can overcome them.

1. Not Being Able To Tell The Difference Between A Fact And An Opinion

The first barrier to critical thinking is confusing facts with opinions. Facts are indisputable and indubitable , whereas opinions are not.

Everyone has different opinions about things, so it’s important to understand the difference between facts and opinions.

Here are some examples of facts you can easily check:

– The distance from the earth to the sun is approximately 93 million miles.

– The sky is blue.

– The human population was 7 billion in 2012.

2. The Person Is Too Self-Obsessed To See Anything Else:

It is the most difficult barrier that makes a person see nothing but themselves. These people consider themselves as an important asset for the world.

This barrier won’t let you acknowledge other people. 

Egocentric Thinking As A Barrier To Critical Thinking

They just want to create a sense of authority .

Critical thinking demands to analyze different aspects to test their validity. Also, finding good aspects of these perspectives is a portion of critical thinking.

But being self-obsessed is the most difficult barrier to overcome.

SEE ALSO: 7 Barriers To Effective Listening

3. A Trend Of Brainstorming Together – A Barrier To Critical Thinking:

The nature of critical thinking stands on famous objectives, beliefs, and ideas. When people think collectively, it hardens for everyone to think in their own space.

Everyone relies on what the majority decides and thinks in that direction.

Critical thinking requires that people have to think differently while in a group.

Group Thinking As A Barrier To Critical Thinking

To break this barrier, everyone in the group must maintain their individuality .

Everyone should think according to their own style even if they are working in a group.

SEE ALSO: Groupthink Vs Group Polarization – Healthy Discussion

4. Barriers To Critical Thinking – Emotions Are Heavier Than The Logic:

People are becoming more sensitive to the opposite views as time passes. So when people have to face the challenge of disagreement , logic flies out of the window.

And then irrelevant reactions take the place of logic that defies reason and disturbs management.

It’s a barrier to deciding based on emotions and emotion-based decision-making is bad for organizations.

5. The Competition Is Real Hard:

This obstacle treats conversations and discourages competitive sports. The main aim of everyone is to win, not to seek learning.

Sophistry And Rhetoric

The greater interest of both sides is in winning the argument than in reaching the truth.

Though this concept has its function in a courtroom. And it has nothing to do with the other real life. But even then this is an important barrier to consider.

6. Barriers To Critical Thinking – Overly Relying On Experiences: 

When this barrier comes to the table of discussion, there are many people who get defensive.

It doesn’t mean that there is no value for the experience. Of course, experience has its own place, but one should not rely only on experience.

The Universality Of Experience

An individual’s experience is his own experience. It doesn’t define what others experience or what happens outside his sphere.

Every person is different. Even the geographical regions are different. So you need to consider experience as an individual’s experience.

7. Accepting Statements Of Superhumans:

This barrier occurs when we test statements based on who said it rather than merit. In such cases, people accept statements to be true.

If someone they respect or like said these. They don’t pay attention to whether the statement is true or not.

Contrary to that, people would reject a statement if it comes from a person they don’t like.

Removing this barrier is difficult. Because people have already made up their minds. They would accept something from a respected person and vice versa.

8. Intellect Is Greater Than Excellence:

For a very long period of time, IQ i.e. intelligence quotient was a measure for intelligence.

But the passing time told us that intelligence has a different number of dimensions.

High Reliance On IQ As A Barrier

T here is no longer only one perspective to look at intelligence.

Still, some companies consider IQ the only measurement for intelligence. This can be a barrier when companies would miss out on people who could prove to be excellent.

If they got a chance and their intelligence got measured in a correct way.

9. Blindly Going Behind What A Myth Says:

Following myths is something that relates to accepting things based on stereotyping.

As we know that stereotypes and assumptions ignore individualistic thinking. These are the factors that hinder the person’s will to analyze the facts and figures.

It also makes people believe what they are doing is right. So they won’t be able to recognize and accept that they are making assumptions.

In such conditions, people can never identify that their judgments base on stereotypes.

10. Barriers To Critical Thinking – Grinding In The Same Cycle:

It happens when an individual falls into a routine. Even the most open-minded people can fell prey to this.

We don’t mean that routine is a bad thing. But it lessens one’s ability to think in an analytical way.

If a person has to do the same thing day after day, week after week, or even for his whole life.

He would forget how to respond to new situations and lose leadership. Moreover, he would begin to shy away from new situations.

Drone Mentality As A Barrier To Critical Thinking

So convenience can be great but it can take a toll on the capability of critical thinking.

11. Following The Power:

This barrier is about accepting someone’s view or assertion based on their level of authority.

You may be accepting your boss’ views about a certain topic and you think the opposite to that.

But you are doing so because of the authority of the boss and the discipline of the organization.

It involves the factor of respect or admiration while the former involves accepting views based on authority.

Now the problem is not with accepting the view of a boss or an expert. The real problem comes when we are not allowed to question it.


Remember neither to confuse critical thinking with being argumentative. Nor it relates to being critical about others.

Critical thinking is so important because it exposes fallacies and bad reasoning.

It also plays an important role in cooperative reasoning and constructive tasks.

The barriers discussed in this article are important to note. But it’s not impossible or difficult at all to remove these barriers.

Do mention in a comment which barrier you think you are facing.

Last Updated on 12 hours by Assma Riaz

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critical thinking common barriers

September 4


Unlocking Your Mind: What Are the Barriers to Critical Thinking?

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By   Joshua Turner

September 4, 2023

Critical thinking is essential for individuals to analyze and evaluate information to make the right decisions. It involves thinking logically, identifying biases and assumptions, and considering different perspectives. However, several barriers can hinder critical thinking and prevent individuals from making sound judgments.

Emotion and fear can cloud judgment and prevent individuals from considering evidence objectively. Anxiety can also lead to irrational decisions and deter individuals from taking risks or considering alternative solutions.

Another barrier is logical fallacies, which are errors in reasoning that lead to flawed conclusions . Logical fallacies  include ad hominem attacks, false dichotomies, and strawman arguments.

Key Takeaways

  • Emotions and fear can hinder critical thinking .
  • Logical fallacies are a common barrier to critical thinking.
  • Overcoming restrictions to critical thinking is necessary for making decisions.

Understanding Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the process of analyzing, evaluating, and making decisions based on rational thought. It involves using logical reasoning, evidence-based analysis, and objective evaluation to conclude. These skills are vital in today’s complex and fast-paced world , where we are bombarded with information from various sources.

To develop these skills, one must analyze information objectively, identify biases and assumptions, and evaluate evidence to determine its credibility. It involves breaking down complex ideas into smaller parts and examining them individually. The skill also involves asking questions and challenging assumptions to arrive at a well-reasoned conclusion.

Analysis is a component that involves breaking down complex information into smaller parts to understand it better. This process allows us to identify patterns, relationships, and connections between different pieces of information. It helps us identify a problem’s underlying causes and develop practical solutions.

Evaluation is another component of the skill . It involves assessing the credibility and reliability of information and evidence. This process helps us determine an argument’s validity and identify any flaws or weaknesses in the reasoning.

Rational thought  is also vital in the skill. It involves using reason and logic to conclude. Rational thought allows us to make decisions based on evidence and objective analysis. It helps us to avoid making decisions based on emotions, biases, or personal beliefs.

Barriers to Critical Thinking

Several restrictions can hinder this process. One of the most common is personal biases . Our beliefs, values, and experiences can influence our thinking and prevent us from considering alternative perspectives.

Another barrier is egocentric thinking , which occurs when individuals view everything from their perspective and fail to consider the viewpoints of others. It can lead to a narrow-minded approach and limit the ability to see the bigger picture.

Intuitive judgment is another barrier when individuals rely on their gut feelings or instincts rather than analyzing the available information. While intuition can be helpful, it can also lead to unwarranted assumptions and biases.

Unwarranted assumptions are another barrier when individuals make assumptions without sufficient evidence or support. It can lead to faulty reasoning and poor decision-making.

Individuals must be aware of several restrictions to this skill to make appropriate decisions. Recognizing these barriers can help individuals work to overcome them and improve their skills .


Role of Emotions and Fear

Impact of emotions.

Emotions can be a significant barrier to critical thinking. They can cloud our judgment and prevent us from making rational decisions. When emotional, we tend to react impulsively rather than thinking things through.

We may also become defensive and refuse to consider alternative viewpoints. It’s necessary to recognize when our emotions are influencing our thinking and take steps to manage them.

Fear of Failure

Fear of failure is another emotion that can hinder this type of thinking process. We may avoid taking risks or trying new things when we fear failing. This fear can prevent us from exploring new ideas or considering alternative solutions to problems. It’s vital to recognize that failure is a natural part of the learning process and that we can learn from our mistakes.

Fear of Change

When we are comfortable with the status quo, we may resist new ideas or ways of doing things. This fear can prevent us from considering alternative solutions or exploring new opportunities. We must recognize that change is inevitable and that embracing it can lead to growth and development.

Emotions and fear can be significant drawbacks to critical thinking. We must recognize when they are influencing our thinking and take steps to manage them. Doing so makes us more open-minded and better equipped to make rational decisions.

Logical Fallacies as Barriers

Fallacies can be intentional or unintentional but always lead to flawed arguments. Some common misconceptions include ad hominem attacks, false dichotomies, and appeals to emotion.

Ad hominem attacks are personal attacks on individuals rather than addressing their arguments. This fallacy is often used in politics and can distract from the issues.

False dichotomies present only two options when there are more. This fallacy can limit the skill by not allowing for alternative viewpoints or solutions.

Appeals to emotion use emotional language to sway opinions rather than presenting logical arguments. This fallacy can be especially effective in advertising and cloud one’s ability to think critically about a product or idea.

It is vital to recognize these fallacies and avoid them in our thinking and when evaluating the arguments of others. Doing so ensures that our reasoning is based on truth and sound epistemology.

Importance of Open-Mindedness

Open-mindedness is a component that involves being receptive to new ideas and perspectives, even if they challenge our existing beliefs. An open mind allows us to consider all available information and make the right decisions.

Intellectual honesty is closely related  to open-mindedness. It involves a commitment to seeking the truth, regardless of our biases or preconceptions. Being intellectually honest can avoid the pitfalls of confirmation bias and other cognitive biases.

Truth-seeking is another aspect of open-mindedness. It involves a willingness to pursue the truth, even if it is difficult or uncomfortable. Seeking the truth can ensure that our beliefs and decisions are based on accurate information rather than hearsay or misinformation.

Open-mindedness is an attribute of effective critical thinking. Being open to new ideas, committed to intellectual honesty, and dedicated to truth-seeking can improve our ability to make correct decisions and solve complex problems.


The Danger of Assumptions

Assumptions are a common barrier, and they can be dangerous because they can lead us to draw incorrect conclusions. We take it for granted without verifying its accuracy when we assume something. This can be problematic because assumptions are often based on limited information or biased perspectives.

One of the dangers of assumptions is that they can lead to stereotypes and prejudice. For example, if we assume that all people from a particular race or culture behave a certain way, we are likely to make incorrect judgments about individuals from that group. This can lead to discrimination and unfair treatment.

Assumptions can also be dangerous in professional settings. When we assume that we know what a client or colleague wants or needs , we may make decisions that do not align with their preferences or goals. This can lead to poor outcomes and damage professional relationships.

To avoid the danger of assumptions, challenge them and seek additional information. We can ask questions, seek diverse perspectives, and verify our assumptions with evidence. Doing so can improve our skills and make better decisions.

Critical Thinking in Practice

In real-life situations.

When making important decisions, it is necessary to consider all available options and weigh each option’s pros and cons. Critical thinking can also help solve problems, analyze information, and evaluate arguments.

It can also help individuals to communicate more effectively by allowing them to express their thoughts and ideas clearly and logically. Through this thinking process, individuals can also identify biases and assumptions that may be present in different situations, allowing them to make the right decisions.

In Assignments for Teens

It is a component of many academic assignments for teens. For example, when writing an essay, it is necessary to critically analyze the topic, conduct research, and evaluate sources. It can also help complete math problems, conduct science experiments, and analyze historical events.

Developing these skills can make teens more independent learners capable of analyzing and evaluating information independently. They can also learn to communicate their ideas more effectively in writing and oral presentations.

It can help individuals make better decisions, solve problems, and communicate more effectively in real-life situations or academic assignments.

Overcoming Barriers to Critical Thinking

One way to overcome restrictions is by embracing change. It requires an open mind and a willingness to consider new ideas and perspectives. Being flexible and adaptable can avoid becoming stuck in their ways and limiting their thinking ability.

Another strategy is problem-solving. Developing strong problem-solving skills can help individuals overcome them in this thinking process. Breaking down complex problems into smaller, more manageable pieces can help individuals approach issues with a clear and logical mindset.

Reflective judgment is also key to overcoming them by reflecting on one’s own thought processes and biases. Individuals can become more aware of their limitations and work to overcome them. This can involve questioning assumptions, seeking out diverse perspectives, and being willing to admit when one is wrong.

Finally, progress is a factor in overcoming restrictions. Individuals must be willing to learn from their mistakes and strive for constant growth. Setting goals , seeking feedback, and continually challenging oneself can overcome hindrances and become more effective problem-solvers and decision-makers.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common obstacles to critical thinking.

Some common obstacles include biases, assumptions, stereotypes, and emotions. These can prevent us from considering alternative perspectives and limit our thinking ability.

How can we identify and overcome barriers to critical thinking?

We can identify and overcome them by actively questioning our assumptions, examining our biases, and considering alternative perspectives. It is also important to be aware of our emotions and how they may influence our thinking.

What are the major barriers to critical and creative thinking?

The major barriers to critical and creative thinking include fear of failure, lack of confidence, and a fixed mindset. These can limit our ability to think outside the box and consider alternative solutions.

What are some examples of barriers to critical thinking in the workplace?

Some examples in the workplace include groupthink, conformity, and a lack of diversity in perspectives. These can prevent new ideas from being considered and limit innovation.

What are the most effective ways to overcome barriers to critical thinking?

The most effective ways to overcome them include actively seeking alternative perspectives, questioning assumptions, and being open-minded. It is also important to be aware of our biases and emotions and how they may influence our thinking.

What are some strategies for overcoming barriers to critical thinking in education?

Some strategies for overcoming them in education include encouraging students to question assumptions, promoting diverse perspectives, and providing opportunities for students to think creatively and outside the box. It is also important to foster a safe and supportive learning environment where students feel comfortable sharing their ideas.

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Understanding & Overcoming Barriers to Critical Thinking

Want to become a more critical thinker? The first step is being aware of the barriers that stand in the way of you and clear, rational thought. Knowing what to watch out for can help you overcome them and move closer to making well-informed decisions.

Critical thinking is essential to using your overall experience, background, common sense and other attributes to become more aware of how your efforts for success are being spent. When you have barriers to the critical thinking process, it can seriously harm your ability to move forward.

When you’re aware of these barriers, you can better overcome them and focus your thinking on what’s going to move you forward rather than getting stuck behind a barrier — unable to move forward.

Barriers to Critical Thinking

Here are five barriers that can impede the critical thinking process:

(i) Thinking in Black and White. Some people ignore a situation’s complexities by thinking that there’s only one way to solve a problem. The problem is placed in a category, given a label, and that’s the only way that matters. Thinking in black and white comes from our need to have certainty in our lives, but it’s false logic to assume that everything is totally one way.

(ii) Thinking with the Ego . Egocentric thinking is thinking with a lack of understanding others’ wants and needs. It limits your thinking to only your point of view and doesn’t have room for others’ ideas. This thinking process is deeply embedded in our psyches, and it sometimes takes deliberate effort to overcome it.

(iii) Social Thinking . The drone mentality of social thinking only lets us see things in the way of the popular point of view – or how our spouse, companions, parents and friends think. Thinking outside the box is almost impossible when you have a barrier of social thinking and it can impede the critical thinking process.

(iv) Authoritative Thinking . Just because someone in authority says it’s true doesn’t mean it is. You’ve likely been swayed by political leaders who say one thing is true, only to find out later that it was a lie or a misleading way of thinking. The authority could be a person, peer group, institution or anything that makes you think that they’re right because they’re in an authoritative position.

(v) Judgmental Thinking . When you judge something or someone based on moral evaluation, it’s usually done in haste and based on our past – such as the way we were raised, educated or other values and mores. Judgmental thinking is usually non-rational thinking and can block understanding and insight about a person or an issue.

SO what can you do to overcome these barriers? Here are five suggestions to try:

a. Recognizing Your Cognitive Biases. Cognitive biases are tendencies we all have that lead us to make certain decisions, judgments or beliefs. We develop them over time and they don’t necessarily serve us well in our decision-making process. Some of the more common cognitive biases include confirmation bias (seeking out evidence to support existing beliefs), anchoring bias (overestimating or underestimating based on initial information) and the “availability heuristic” (making decisions quickly and with little research). Recognizing when they are at play can help you make choices free of bias and more reflective of your values.

b . Acting on Your Assumptions. Before making a decision or forming an opinion, it’s important to take the time to analyze the facts. Don’t act on your assumptions right away. Instead, question why you’re feeling something and address any underlying fear or insecurity with facts. Ask yourself questions like “What do I really know about this?” and “Is there evidence to back up my thought?” Taking some extra time can help you make decisions without bias.

c . Avoiding Confirmation Bias. One of the most common barriers to critical thinking is confirmation bias, which is when someone only looks for facts that support an idea they already have. To avoid this type of thinking, ensure your research and data are coming from a variety of sources. This way you’re not only getting information from one side, but also learning opposing points of view. Questioning your own opinion or ‘gut feeling’ can help to prevent yourself from making decisions without fully understanding all sides of the story.

d . Reframing Your Thoughts and Perspectives. Reframing your thoughts and perspectives is a great way to overcome barriers to critical thinking. Make an effort to step out of your comfort zone, look at matters from a different angle, and challenge yourself by looking for contradicting evidence or anomalies. You can also challenge your own beliefs in this process and be open to other people’s viewpoints. Through this exercise, find new insights and become more well-rounded.

e. Search for Different Points of View & Solutions. In order to prevent confirmation bias, actively search for different points of view and solutions. Don’t limit yourself to one path — consider the range of possibilities. Ask questions, research information with an open mind, and form opinions based on fact instead of assumptions or what has been said in the past. You’ll become more adept at critical thinking as you learn how to look for new angles, draw conclusions from evidence, and recognize diverse perspectives.

It’s important that we recognise our own barriers to the critical thinking process and replace those barriers with rational and reasoned thinking and then make a concentrated effort to avoid them.

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Where Creative Ideas in Distance Ed Come Together

Fear, Anger, and Denial—How do critical thinkers deal with barriers during a crisis?

Critical Thinking in Education

Have you ever made a bad choice in life? Most of us have at some point and if we go back and analyze what went wrong, we often find that there was some barrier to our critical thinking keeping us from making the best choice among the alternatives that we have. To understand and spot the barriers is important because we can often develop strategies for dealing with these roadblocks to good decision making.

Today I will focus on just a few with examples that highlight how we are currently dealing with the COVID 19 outbreak. The barriers that have surfaced are fear, anger, denial, egocentrism, and Sociocentrism. Each one of these barriers can have a significant impact on our decision making and with so many important decisions now that must be made, we want to be certain we are making the best possible choice.

Fear is perhaps one of those barriers that are partly ingrained through our evolution. In essence, fear encourages us to act—either rationally or irrationally.  Take for example how people are dealing with the outbreak of the coronavirus. There are many examples of how people are reacting out of fear rather than using critical thinking to work through and find a solution. Whether we are talking about the hoarding of something like toilet tissue or something more dangerous like attacking someone not social distancing, how we react can be traced back to this barrier. Roalfe (1929) posits that “ the real force or menace behind all fear and anxiety is desire” (p. 35). Our desire for safety and security essentially can overwhelm our ability to use our critical thinking to make good choices.

Anger is another of the barriers to thinking. When people are angry they will often ignore important information that might help resolve the root cause of the anger.  Berkowitz and Jones (2004) explain that “anger is often intermixed with the fright so that the fearful persons are all too apt to be angry as well, particularly when they think they cannot escape from the danger” (p. 152). This is particularly pertinent as people react to the COVID 19 crisis.  Many people simply cannot escape an outbreak and they will react with both anger and fear. One not mentioned though is denial.

Denial or repression is perhaps more dangerous than our initial impulse of anger because we can rationalize ourselves into believing something that is not factual rather than dealing with the issue. Whether it manifests in refusal to take protective measures or leads to risky behavior, the outcome can be detrimental not just to the person, but to others as well. Even when confronted with the facts, denial can keep a person from making the decisions needed for personal protection. We saw this play out again and again as people carried on as if nothing was really happening, even as the hospitals were flooded with sick and the numbers grew daily.

As critical thinkers, we can use the same methods we use for daily problem solving to help us make the best possible solution, even when dealing with a life-altering outbreak like the current COVID 19 pandemic we are currently going through. The first thing that must happen is the realization that there is a problem. As mentioned above, this can be very difficult when there are so many different voices trying to influence our understanding and how we are wired psychologically. Without the realization of the problem though, there can be no solutions. But how do we decide in such a fractured approach to the possible solutions? El-Hai & Machado (2020) state that

when the problem is not consensually stated to a significant extent, the search for solutions becomes open­ended, with different stakeholders championing alternative solutions and competing with one another to frame ‘the problem’ in a way that directly connects their preferred solution and their preferred problem definition, and, besides, fulfills their own interests and pleases their own values. (p.6)

What this suggests is that we must advocate for ourselves and seek out the best possible information. Whether we are reviewing information from the CDC or our state health department, the voices of the professionals can help us gain the insight we need. Understanding is key because it can help us to explore the alternatives we have available as we move forward towards a solution.

Exploring the alternatives is also important because in this stage we can weigh the pros and cons of how the possible decisions will affect us. This stage can be as complex as any and as reflected in the quote above, how we view the possibilities is impacted by how the issue is framed.

Then we will make the decision and implement the plan. In this stage, there will likely be some uncertainty and how we deal with the uncertainty can impact how willing we are to accept the risk in the decision. A young, healthy person is not likely to see the same risk as an older person with a pre-existing condition. As noted though in the available research, even the young can be impacted by the virus and young people can be potential spreaders of the disease when asymptomatic.

The final step in decision making a review of how well the plan is working. As I write today, the country has started opening back up and the number of cases has started to rise. As critical thinkers, we track our progress and work to make adjustments when needed. The question remains though, will people use social distancing and face coverings as a way slow the disease as the economy restarts, or will some slip into a state of denial?

Berkowitz, L., & Harmon-Jones, E. (2004). More thoughts about anger determinants. Emotion, 4 (2), 151-155. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/1528-3542.4.2.151

El-Hani, C., & Machado, V. (2020). COVID-19: The need of an integrated and critical view. Ethnobiology and Conservation, 9 Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/2404320755?accountid=35812

Roalfe, W. R. (1929). The psychology of fear. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 24 (1), 32-40. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0071654

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