The concept of critical thinking reflects an idea derived from roots in ancient Greek. The word critical derives etymologically from 2 Greek roots: kriticos which means discerning judgment and criterion which means standards. Etymologically, then the word implies the development of discerning judgment based on standards. In Webster's New World Dictionary, the relevant entry for critical reads, characterized by careful analysis and judgment and is followed by: critical in the strictest sense, implies an attempt at objective judgment so as to determine both merits and faults. Considering these definitions together, critical thinking may be appropriately defined as thinking explicitly aimed at well-founded judgment, utilizing appropriate evaluative standards in an attempt to determine the true worth, merit, or value of something (Elder & Paul, 2006 p.6).
The extent to which we can think critically is strongly related to who we are. The enculturation process largely determines one's prejudices and values and our self-concept contains specific areas of sensitivity and weaknesses that motivate defensive thinking through the use of ego defenses and self-serving biases.
Additionally, one's schemata shape, restrict and stereotype one's perceptions and thinking. Depression, anger, passion and stress can lead to irrational thoughts and poor judgment. One's thinking also seems to be affected by one's need for consistency and balance among one's thoughts and emotions (Goodpaster & Kirby, 2007 p.27).
When thinking critically, one assesses the situation and attempts to view things in an objective manner. This does not mean that emotions have no part in the process. But it does mean that emotions must be viewed in a rational fashion. How one thinks about a situation in a coherent fashion invariably affects one's behavior. When one acts in the real world and makes decisions about the real world, one is forced to constantly ask questions as to what...