9 Critical Thinking Examples

Critical thinking is significant, especially in today’s demanding world.

One needs to have critical thinking skills to keep.

But when is critical thinking used?

Below are 9 critical thinking examples we’ve gathered from 8 experts.

Atty. David Reischer

David Reischer

Attorney | CEO, Legal Advice

Learning how to challenge the very premises of an argument is the key to strong critical thinking skills

As a practicing attorney, the skill of critical thinking is endemic to the profession. That is to say, all skilled attorneys know that mastering the craft of being a good lawyer requires the ability to investigate and challenge the reasons that support a conclusion.

Related: The 14 Best Books on Critical Thinking

An attorney must weigh the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of an argument while drilling down into the smallest detail that supports a conclusion.

A good attorney will question things that are stated as fact and be skeptical of those arguments that rely on weak assumptions. A good attorney will always look at both sides of an argument.

Dr. Elliott B. Jaffa

Dr. Elliott B. Jaffa

Behavioral and Marketing Psychologist

Critical thinking exercises to assess a potential hire, a promotion, assignment, or other HR issues

As a behavioral and management psychologist, let me share three of my best critical thinking exercises to assess a potential hire, a promotion, assignment, or any other HR issue:

Ask the applicant to write down two four-letter words, i.e., fire and heat

Then ask him to construct a sentence in which the first word begins with the letter F; the second begins with the letter I; the third with the letter R; and the last with the letter E.

  • Fred is really excited.
  • Frank is ruining everything.
  • Harry expected a toy.
  • Hot eggs are tasty.

I have numerous of what I refer to as A-Z critical thinking exercises. This is one of the “basic” simpler ones

However, it seems easy at first until people are unable to use all 26 letters in the alphabet. On a sheet of paper list the letters from A to Z in a column; one letter on each line.

You will have three minutes to list any item that can be found in a supermarket beginning with that letter. For example, the letter A: apple, avocado, Aleve, etc. Easy A-Z exercises can include boys names; more difficult ones can be any item found in Target or Home Depot.

Slide a sheet of paper and a pen to the individual and ask him/her to write using a minimum of five sentences

Although she may use more — Why I Want the Job, My Best Vacation, My Favorite Teacher, etc.

The objective is to see how the individual organizers his/her thoughts in five to eight sentences. I am also taking note whether the applicant uses cursive or prints their response.

L. Burke Files

L. Burke Files

Director of Corporate Finance, Financial Examinations and Evaluations, Inc.

Critical thinking is at the heart of reflection on events and ideas. How do events interconnect how can ideas impact my choices for better and for worse and thus how can I make the best choices given the facts at hand and how do I know I have made a wrong choice and need to reflect some more.

Related: Why is Critical Thinking Important?

It is also, in reflection, one can also winnow out the facts and circumstance that matter in a choice and what is called informational noise.

The family schism is where I was blamed for a family member’s failure in a business transaction. The accusation is ludicrous as when the decision by the relative was made to contract with a friend I was on another continent.

I did later come to their aid when the transaction was faltering. My friend asked if I could help my relative before she sues my relative for breach of contract. ( I donated all my time and was not paid ) and when the transaction failed I was pilloried.

My first thought was ripping their arms off and beating my relative with the dismembered member. As I cooled, and this took months, I realized that this family member always blamed others for their commercial failings. By being in the room they could blame me.

That what I really wanted was not to mend the fence – but to walk away and share with the other family members the facts and see what happens. Authenticity required that I do share the facts and open the door to rekindling the relations that I once had.

With reflection, I came to see that I cannot make someone either trust me or love me, for that is their choice, not mine. An over the top reaction would have cemented their opinion that I was bad, sharing the facts and reopening the door may allow for the opportunity I desire.

Is critical thinking necessary in everyday life?

I believe material actions should only be taken after proper reflection. I must be critical of myself and my important choices.

Critical thinking is key to building better families, business, societies, and governments.

The flip side of critical thinking is pure animal reactions to one’s environment of the unreflective thinker. Think of any or any one of a number of vapid stars, politicians, business leaders that lash out before thinking. Boy or boy has twitter made that easy.

Critical thinking also often requires others. Be the subject matter experts or people that are also good critical thinkers that can prod you down better paths.

It is required for every choice to be made? No – I know I should not eat potato chips, I know they are bad for me, but sometimes I just want them.

Critical thinking skills allow one to make one’s choices more informed and more often than not correct.

Reactive choice making without critical thinking allows us to be manipulated by the remitter of the message and/or to be at the mercy of our most base emotions.

Adeel Shabir

Adeel Shabir

Content Marketing Executive, SIA Enterprises

Critical thinking is the analysis of the scenario before it has happened or it will happen.

Making a clear vision of the outcome and be prepared for the results is a way of critical thinking.

There are many examples when one can endure critical thinking before its actually happening, below are just a few examples:

  1. An applicant preparing a scenario before appearing the interview with the employee and creating the best way to demonstrate its abilities and skills and explaining the best outcome of that particular scenario.
  2. Parents analyzing the cost of sending its child to a college, with keeping the expenses at home and demonstrating specific expenses needed for the child and also running the chores at home.
  3. First, responders are coming up the scene of an accident and quickly analyzing the situation and what actions are required before calling the officials.

Alex Tran

Alex Tran

Yoga Instructor, Schimiggy Reviews

As a yoga instructor, I am always teaching from the perspective of need versus want.

This has enabled me to think critically since high school and college. I lived with an aunt who taught me to analyze the value in why I take action and whether what I am doing is something I need to do versus what I want to do.

When we want something, we do it out of selfishness.

When we do something because we need to, we do it out of duty, out of obligation for a better life for ourselves and those around us.

This dichotomy of thinking has allowed me to say no when something requested of me does not feel right. It has also enabled me to respect myself and honor my boundaries both professionally and in my personal life.

I believe all children should be taught the importance of want versus need because it really reshapes the way we think about our actions and how it affects the world around us.

Chef Christopher Martin

Christopher Martin

Founder, Digest The Passion 

The life of a Chef lives and dies by their ability to think critically.

Every moment you are expected to think critically about nearly every decision you make from the size cut you choose for the carrots in that sauce to whether or not you have enough of a dish to make it through the end of the night you are expected to make the right decision much more than most of the time.

Some of the most daunting concerns we can have in a kitchen; inventory. Sure ordering it is a question, but then you have to consider your menu, the space you have available, do you have the money available to purchase what we need to cover until we get our next order. These are all thoughts that we need to cover when we get to work in the morning.

Imagine for a moment you walk in to work and you’re ON the moment you walk in. Step one, get everything turned on. Step two, menu design time.

This is where most of the thinking will be put into place. Who do you have working with you, who’s strong on what station, what day of the week is it, is it going to be busy today, is today a good time to train the FNG on the grill. Ok so, we have 4 apps, 6 entrees, 4 salads, 3 desserts.

You have to keep in mind who you envision working the station, what do you think are going to be the biggest sellers, do you have any servers on that you can trust to suggestively sell your guests to relieve pressure from a station in case they get in the weeds.

How will you design the menu to ensure that you have enough equipment in the house to cover the usage you anticipate, You KNOW your clientele will love the ribeye you just put on the menu, how many other items can your grill/grill cook handle and still ensure a quick turnover of your tables.

These are just the major choices a Chef must make over and over again. Don’t worry; by the time someone calls you Chef and knows what that means, you’ll have a hold of it and hopefully, you’ll have a team with you that has your back and will not only inform you of your shortcomings but will also have your back and help you cope with them.

My approach is to show the students the basic draft using generic measurements in a “storyboard” format, in other words, they draft the pattern one step at a time meaning they do step 1, start a new page re-do step 1 and add to it for step 2, they repeat the process for step 3 and all consecutive steps until the draft is complete.

Once it is complete then they must draft a pattern using their personal measurements and the storyboard as a guide. I find this a very effective way for the students to really understand each step when they are not in class and doing a draft.

When I do a demonstration in later classes I will make a “mistake” intentionally to see who speaks up to tell me I did something wrong.

It shows me who really understood the previous lessons. Once the class sees the student being congratulated on speaking up they will then feel more comfortable not only speaking up to correct someone else but also learn to trust their own instincts.

The other benefit of doing a storyboard is they will really understand the very foundation of the pattern draft so when it comes time to do an alteration on a finished garment they will know exactly where to touch the garment to alter it properly because they have gained an in-depth knowledge of the subject right from the beginning.

My analogy for the students is one can’t build a house from the second floor you must have a good foundation to build the house on or it will come tumbling down.

They have a good laugh and carry on with the storyboards all the while rolling their eyes! In the end, the storyboards are among the most cherished possessions.

The other thing I do is when they have a question I give them a hint to prompt them to come up with the answer themselves rather than answering the question directly. If they are struggling I do finally answer but they usually see the answer on their own again building their self-confidence.

I use tailoring as an example but this can be applied to any subject.

In my opinion, the biggest obstacle to ensuring students are thinking critically is when the instructor is too perfect, that bar is set too high and discourages any type of thinking, critical or otherwise.

This is why as an instructor I always show mistakes that I have made in the past to reassure them that everyone makes mistakes or gets something not quite right, I also show them how I corrected it and was surprised with the outcome laughingly calling it a “design feature”, we all have a good laugh and they are put at ease in the class. The students really respond to this show of humanity, I would rather talk with the students than to the students.

Airto Zamorano

Airto Zamorano

Co-Founder | CEO, Numana SEO

We have a client who had been very successful for many years, but then they lost their main referral source and it had a significant impact on their bottom line.

To help them, we had to understand what had made them successful in the past and what had changed. We needed to search for opportunities to recreate that success, and we had to help their business evolve to be able to capitalize on new opportunities.

The biggest challenge was that the business owner was deeply attached to the previous way of doing things. Although it is hard enough to walk into a business as an outsider and help them pivot, it is even more challenging when they are not interested in changing anything.

Our proposed solution simply wasn’t appealing because there was no one single marketing channel that would replace the single referral source they had lost. Our plan involved a slow and steady campaign that would leave them less vulnerable in the future, but there just wasn’t a silver bullet.

We were confident it was the right way to do things, but we had to get the owner to buy in.

Thus, our challenge was to find new opportunities while compromising greatly on our approach to respect the feelings and wishes of the business owner.

Every step we took had to be approached with critical analysis: Will the business owner be okay with this message? Then, how will the customers view this messaging and approach?

We had to go back to the drawing board many times, and we had to have many uncomfortable conversations. Eventually, we made progress by meticulously breaking down every aspect of the business and their market, and we inspired confidence by using data to illustrate why our plan was the best course of action.

This was not an easy project, and it took a lot of hard work and patience. The business owner was not going to approve a big shift in his business model without feeling 100% confident that every detail had been critically analyzed and planned out.

By using our ability to problem solve and critically think about every little detail, we were able to help this business and achieve results.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What makes a person a critical thinker?

A critical thinker can objectively analyze, evaluate, and interpret information and make informed judgments and decisions based on evidence and sound reasoning. Some characteristics that may contribute to a person’s ability to think critically are:

Open-mindedness: being receptive to new ideas and perspectives and willing to consider evidence and arguments that may challenge one’s beliefs or assumptions

Curiosity: a desire to learn and explore new ideas and information

Skepticism: the willingness to question claims and evidence and to critically evaluate the validity and reliability of the information

Logical reasoning: the ability to formulate clear and convincing arguments based on evidence and sound reasoning

Analytical thinking: the ability to break down complex information into smaller pieces to better understand and evaluate it

Problem-solving: the ability to identify and analyze problems and develop effective solutions based on evidence and sound reasoning.

Critical thinking is not innate but a skill that can be developed and refined through focused practice and teaching.

What are the most common challenges to critical thinking?

Personal bias: Personal biases, including cultural, social, or personal beliefs, can interfere with a person’s critical thinking ability by influencing their evaluation of evidence and arguments.

Emotional reasoning: Emotions can often cloud a person’s judgment and prevent them from objectively evaluating evidence or arguments.

Confirmation bias: Confirmation bias occurs when individuals seek information that confirms their existing beliefs or assumptions rather than considering evidence that contradicts them.

Lack of information or knowledge: Critical thinking requires a sufficient understanding of relevant information and knowledge. Without enough information, individuals may be unable to make informed judgments or decisions.

Cognitive dissonance: Cognitive dissonance occurs when individuals hold conflicting beliefs or ideas and have difficulty evaluating and reconciling these conflicting ideas.

Overconfidence in authority: Overconfidence in authority, such as experts or influential people, can prevent people from critically evaluating information or arguments presented.

Lack of practice: Thinking critically requires deliberate practice and effort. Without regular practice, individuals may struggle to apply critical thinking in everyday situations.

How is critical thinking different from creative thinking?

Critical thinking and creative thinking are two different types of thinking, although they can be complementary and interrelated in specific contexts. Here are some essential differences between the two:

Focus: Critical thinking involves analyzing, evaluating, and interpreting information, whereas creative thinking involves developing new and innovative ideas.

Process: Critical thinking logically breaks down complex information, while creative thinking explores new ideas more spontaneously.

Evaluation: Critical thinking evaluates existing ideas or arguments, while creative thinking generates new ideas without evaluating their strengths or weaknesses.

Outcome: Critical thinking leads to a well-reasoned conclusion or decision, while creative thinking produces a novel solution, product, or idea.

Application: Critical thinking is used in problem-solving or decision-making, while creative thinking is used in areas such as art, design, and innovation.

Although critical and creative thinking differs in these ways, they can also complement each other in certain contexts. For example, in innovation or design processes, creative thinking can be used to generate new ideas, while critical thinking is used to evaluate and refine those ideas to ensure they are practical and effective.

What are some common fallacies to watch out for in critical thinking?

Ad hominem – attacking the person making the argument rather than the argument itself

Appeal to authority – appealing to an authority figure as evidence for an argument without evaluating the credibility or relevance of that person’s opinion

False dilemma – presenting only two options as if they were the only ones possible

Hasty generalization – drawing a conclusion based on insufficient or unrepresentative evidence

Post-hoc false inference – assuming that an event that occurred before another is the cause of the second event

How can I improve my critical thinking skills?

Ask questions: Asking questions is an integral part of critical thinking. When confronted with information, take the time to ask yourself questions like:
– What is the evidence for this claim?
– What assumptions are being made?
– What are the possible biases or limitations of this information?

Challenge assumptions: Recognize that your own assumptions and beliefs can influence your thinking, and be willing to challenge them. This includes being open to other points of view and considering evidence that may contradict your assumptions.

Evaluate evidence: Assess the credibility and relevance of the information presented and evaluate the quality of evidence used to support an argument or claim.

Consider alternative perspectives: Engage with different viewpoints and perspectives and evaluate the evidence and reasoning behind each argument.

Practice problem-solving: Engage in problem-solving activities that require analyzing and evaluating evidence and arguments. This could include solving puzzles, brainstorming solutions to complex problems, or evaluating statements in the news or media.

Read critically: Read materials that challenge your thinking and practice evaluating the evidence and reasoning presented.

Collaborate with others: Participate in discussions and debates with others and practice formulating persuasive arguments based on evidence and sound reasoning.

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