Thinking and Decision Making
Thinking and Decision Making
the exploration of critical thinking and decision-making, it becomes
evident that the two are quite often linked.
While critical thinking can take place without the need to make a
decision, one would think that making a decision should never take place
without thinking critically about the decision that needs to be made.
On the other hand, there are times when it seems that decisions
are made without any critical thinking involved.
What is Critical
Through a review of the text, Readings in Critical
Thinking, the reader will note that critical thinking is “a set of
attitudes [whereby an individual reacts] with systematic
evaluation to what [he/she] has heard or read” (3).
The Little Brown Compact Handbook notes, “CRITICAL here
does not mean ‘negative’ but ‘skeptical,’ ‘exacting,’
‘creative’ ” (281). Using
this information, it can be determined that critical thinking is a
process by which an individual evaluates information being heard or read
to determine the validity of the information and any other issues that
may be imbedded in the information.
in Critical Thinking recommends evaluation of information based on a
set of questions as follows:
What are the issues and the conclusions?
What are the reasons?
What words or phrases are ambiguous?
What are the value conflicts and assumptions?
What are the descriptive assumptions?
Are there any fallacies in the reasoning?
How good is the evidence?
Are there rival causes?
Are the statistics deceptive?
What significant information is omitted?
What reasonable conclusions are possible? (11)
While it is not necessary
to directly use these questions when evaluating information, they are
helpful in learning the process of critical thinking and as a guideline
when evaluating information related to a particularly difficult problem
or decision that needs to be made.
What is Decision
exploration of Readings in Critical Thinking, shows that
decision-making is a process through which “the decision maker [comes]
up with a solution [to] a recognized and defined problem” (73).
Miriam Webster Online (http://www.m-w.com) defines a decision as
“a determination arrived at after consideration.”
Using these definitions, it can be determined that
decision-making is the act of evaluating information in order to reach a
conclusion to a problem.
How do Critical
Thinking and Decision Making Relate to Each Other?
a review of the definitions of critical thinking and decision-making, it
can be determined that those making decisions must use critical thinking
to determine the best solution for a problem.
Without critical thinking, details of a situation can be missed
and the best solution may be bypassed.
For example, as an individual is driving his/her car, the driver
must be aware of his/her surroundings in order to maintain proper
control of the car. As the
individual proceeds, the vehicle in front may suddenly come to a stop.
If the driver is aware, he/she must make a quick decision,
especially if he/she is following too closely.
By maintaining an awareness of his/her surroundings through
critical thinking, the driver may know that the next lane is empty,
thereby making it available for a quick lane change in order to avoid an
accident. Without this
evaluation of his/her surroundings, the driver would not know of the
availability of the lane, nor might he/she even realize that the car in
front stopped, thereby causing an accident.
example would be in determining the best applicant for an available
position. The first step is
to properly evaluate the requirements for the position.
Asking a series of questions regarding the position will aid in
the determination of the types of qualifications the applicant needs.
Through an evaluation of the needs of the position as they relate
to the qualification of the applicants, the person trying to fill the
position should be able to determine the best applicant.
Also, the person trying to fill the position should ask the
applicant a series of questions to determine if “significant
information is omitted” (Readings in Critical Thinking, 11) or
anything else that may pertain to the position being filled.
stated previously, critical thinking is not something that must
necessarily take place only when making a decision.
Each day, individuals must process a great deal of information
and the individual does not consciously evaluate each piece of
information being stored (Readings in Critical Thinking, 84).
When an individual encounters information that is relative to an
issue, the individual may decide that the information has relevance, but
may store it for later use. Also,
one may evaluate information for its validity without actually needing
the information to make a decision at that time.
example, a person who is attending a seminary may study various
religions as a way of giving him/her a more comprehensive view of
society. The student may
not need this information to determine the validity of his/her own
beliefs, but may evaluate it anyway.
He/she may encounter situations that require him/her to ask
“Why does this person believe this?” or “Why does someone believe
something totally different from me?” yet it does not require him/her
to make a decision as to his own person beliefs.
there are times when it seems that no thinking was involved at all in a
decision. In these cases,
the decisions were often made using a series of reasons that were not
questioned. Also, there are
times when what seems to be an acceptable decision to one person, may
not be for another. For
example, through information gained via personal interview with the
owner of a General Motors vehicle, every vehicle made by General Motors
since the 1970s with cruise control has the cruise control on the turn
signal shaft. To further
complicate the issue, the windshield wiper controls are also on the same
shaft. To one person, this decision seems logical and acceptable,
because all the controls are in one location.
To another, it is illogical because the cruise control moves
location each time the windshield wipers are turned on.
Additionally, when turning on the windshield wipers, the cruise
control can be bumped, changing the setting.
The decisions involved in making the final decision of placing
all the controls in one location appear to have involved no critical
thinking to some, while in fact it involved a series of decisions.
are the benefits of Critical Thinking?
thinking provides an individual with the opportunity to “make a choice
about how [he/she] will react to what [he/she] see[s] and hear[s]” (Readings
in Critical Thinking, 3) and aids in determining “why things
happen… or what [our individual] experiences mean” (The Little
Brown Compact Handbook, 281). If
an individual fails to question and evaluate what he/she experiences,
he/she will be “making someone else’s opinion [his/her] own” (Readings
in Critical Thinking, 3). By
questioning the beliefs of others and reviewing one’s own actions, an
individual may find that something believed since childhood may not be
relevant to current circumstances.
Also, since there are so many conflicting beliefs, individuals
must evaluate those beliefs in order to determine if a particular belief
is in accordance with his/her own values.
are these processes present or absent within my work?
my work on this paper, I have had to use critical thinking and
decision-making in various ways. As
The Little Brown Compact Handbook States, “critical thinking is
also an important skill for conducting research” (281).
I have used critical thinking to evaluate the information from
the text and other sources to determine their validity and the relevance
they might have to this paper. I
have also used critical thinking to determine what my own thoughts on
the subject are and how to present them within this essay.
Through both of these critical thinking processes, there were
decisions to be made that were relevant to the outcome of this paper.
my work for my job, critical thinking and decision making also aid me on
a daily basis. Prioritizing
tasks each day requires me to evaluate each task for its importance.
As individuals within the department or company come to me with
problems, I must evaluate the validity of the problem and any unspoken
issues surrounding the problem. I
must also ask the individual presenting the problem, and any other
pertinent individuals, relevant questions that will aid me in making a
decision as to how to handle the problem.
Sometimes, there may even be research involved in determining the
best solution, at which point I must evaluate the source of that outside
can be seen, critical thinking and decision-making are often intertwined
within daily life and work. While
it is not necessary for a decision to be involved when there is critical
thinking, quite often, critical thinking must be involved to make a
decision, even if the thinking involved is flawed or incomplete.
J.E. (2001). The Little Brown Compact Handbook.
(Rev. custom 4th ed., University of Phoenix).
of Phoenix. (Ed.). (2003).
Readings in Critical Thinking [University of Phoenix
Custom Edition]. Boston:
Pearson Custom Publishing.