Over the years major Universities have closely studied critical thinking and decision-making across the country. The nature of the relationship between critical thinking and decision-making has been the subject of much discussion and has been investigated by several researchers. Critical thinking and decision-making are tested the hardest on social controversies like, abortion and capital punishment. There are no clear un disputable correct answers for these issues. Over the next several paragraphs, critical thinking and decision-making will be defined, analyzed, and discussed from a personal standpoint.
Critical thinking is defined as the ability to weigh evidence, examine, arguments, and construct rational bases for generally accepted beliefs.
It is also a systematic approach to evaluating a problem, according to Niel Browne. When using the critical thinking process you must be able to find faulty reasoning and deductions in an argument. Asking the right questions is very important in the process of critical thinking. Critical thinking involves constructing the situation and supporting the reasoning behind the solution.
You must evaluate the situation, analyze the information and research the topic if you have time. The more time the better. Make sure you do not jump too wrong conclusions to quickly because time is an issue. Your personal knowledge and beliefs are going to come into play when making an informative decision based on the information you have. Once you have interpreted, evaluated, and presented the arguments, you can make an informative decision. When making an informative decision we first must know what is decision-making, or the process involved when making the right decision.
When making a decision there must be a reason to make a decision. You would first identify the problem and / or situation, gather information, brainstorm alternatives, and then predict the outcome and consequences involved with the decision that was made. The other factors that may come up in the end if forgotten during the decision making process are personal values, feeling and emotions, peer pressure, and what risks are involved with the outcome. It is also very important that you have an alternative plan of action incase the decision you have made falters. After you implement the decision you have made, it is important to evaluate the decision to be sure it was the right choice at that particular time. During the critical thinking process and the decision making process you will notice that they are very similar to one another and cross examine each other.
If one is trying to make a decision without critically thinking out the problem then he is going to be in the dark. It is hard to make the right decision when skipping the critical thinking process. This will lead you to the wrong conclusions. It is also true that most people do not distinguish between critical thinking and decision making because their paths cross each other. In order to make the right decision you weigh out the consequences of each possible outcome and determine the best solution to the problem. In order to do this you are using both the critical thinking process and decision-making process.
If you have one without the other then you will be uninformed when you are making your decision. There is no point in using the critical thinking process if there is not going to be a decision to make and visa-versa. If you are making a decision and do not use critical thinking to support your decision then your decision is going to most likely be the wrong one. You would be assuming you made the right decision instead of knowing you made the right decision. Now that we have discussed critical thinking, decision-making and how they are related, we will now look at how the materials in this course define critical thinking and decision-making. The course defines critical thinking in multi-layer steps and defines critical thinking and decision making as "awareness of a set of interrelated critical questions, plus the ability and willingness to ask and answer them at appropriate times" (Browne, Kaplan, Keeley, and Mccall).
They also define it as a systematic evaluation of the information that needs to be overlooked. The course examines the processes using different alternatives and solutions. For example: The sponge and panning for gold alternative. This approach has to do with absorbing all the information that is available and then acquires more complicated thinking later on. This course deals with many different approaches to critical thinking and decision making, but I believe most importantly it gives you systematic approaches that work for different situations that may confront you in the future.
I believe the material for this course is right on target when defining critical thinking and decision-making. The way I define critical thinking and decision-making is very simple, but complex. There are many intricate parts that are involved in the rationale when making the right decision, especially a political, social or business decision. You must first have a problem or reason to critically think a situation. Then you must investigate, interpret, analyze, and come up with a conclusion and plan of attack. During this process there will be other factors to deal with, such as, personal experience, emotions, other peoples opinions, and your personal moral or values.
That is my definition of critical thinking and decision-making. I believe they go hand in hand. You really do not have one without the other. There are many benefits to using this process. The most important benefit to being a critical thinker is taking the time to look at every situation with multiple eyes. Looking at the problem with multiple eyes will allow you to focus on the problem, come up with a systematic approach and determine the steps that need to be taken to make the right decision.
A critical thinker is more likely to make, the right decision the first time. Anytime you make a decision with out evaluating it first you are setting yourself up for failure. Being a critical thinker will allow you to progress and be successful in you professional, personal, and social life. I notice the process of critical thinking and decision making everyday at work. In my industry I have to analyze my clients portfolios, the economy, and the future growth of income properties to determine what is in the best interest of my client. If I do not use critical thinking as my forte for making a business decision for a client, then the burden is on my shoulders when I make a bad business decision that hurts his / her bottom line.
I also come across people who make rational decisions at the spur of the moment without analyzing the situation. In my business it is very important when you are investing someone else's money that you take your time to evaluate every decision that is going to be made. It is obvious that critical thinking and decision making go hand in hand. You really do not have one without the other. If you are going to be successful in all aspects of your life you need to focus on becoming a better critical thinker. Reference Browne, Keeley, McCall, and Kaplan.
Readings in Critical Thinking. 5 th Ed. Pearson Custom Publishing, 2003.