16 Characteristics of Critical Thinkers - Deepstash

Keep reading for FREE

What Is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is more than just the accumulation of facts and knowledge; it’s a way of approaching whatever is presently occupying your mind so that you come to the best possible conclusion. Critical thinkers are focused on constantly upgrading their knowledge, and they engage in independent self-learning. They make some of the best leaders, because they can reach new planes of self-improvement and self-actualization.

If you’re hoping to reach your full potential and make your mark on the world, cultivate the following 16 characteristics of critical thinkers.

55

228 reads

1. Observation

Observation is one of the earliest critical thinking skills we learn as children -- it’s our ability to perceive and understand the world around us. Careful observation includes our ability to document details, and to collect data through our senses. Our observations will eventually lead to insight and a deeper understanding of the world.

52

137 reads

2. Curiosity

Curiosity is a core trait of many successful leaders. Being inherently inquisitive and interested in the world and people around you is a hallmark of leaders who are critical thinkers. Instead of taking everything at face value, a curious person will wonder why something is the way it is.

As we get older, it’s easier to put aside what may seem like childish curiosity. Curiosity forces you to keep an open mind and propels you to gain deeper knowledge -- all of which are also fundamental to being a lifelong learner.

53

122 reads

3. Objectivity

Good critical thinkers are able to stay as objective as possible when looking at information or a situation. They focus on facts, and on the scientific evaluation of the information at hand. Objective thinkers seek to keep their emotions (and those of others) from affecting their judgment.

However, it’s impossible for people to remain completely objective, because we’re all shaped by our points of view, our life experiences and our perspectives. Being aware of our biases is the first step to being objective and looking at an issue dispassionately.

53

141 reads

4. Introspection

This is the art of being aware of your thinking -- or, to put it another way, thinking about how you think about things. Critical thinkers need introspection so they’re aware of their own degree of alertness and attentiveness, as well as their biases. This is your ability to examine your inner-most thoughts, feelings and sensations. Introspection is closely related to self-reflection, which gives you insight into your emotional and mental state.

53

97 reads

5. Analytical thinking

The best analytical thinkers are also critical thinkers, and vice versa. The ability to analyze information is key when looking at almost anything, whether it is a contract, report, business model or even a relationship.

Analyzing information means to break information down to its component parts and evaluate how well those parts function together and separately. Analysis relies on observation; on gathering and evaluating evidence so you can come to a meaningful conclusion. Analytical thinking begins with objectivity.

52

123 reads

6. Identifying biases

Critical thinkers challenge themselves to identify the evidence that forms their beliefs and assess whether or not those sources are credible. Doing this helps you understand your own biases and question your preconceived notions.

This is an important step in becoming aware of how biases intrude on your thinking and recognizing when information may be skewed. When looking at information, ask yourself who the information benefits. Does the source of this information have an agenda? Does the source overlook or leave out information that doesn’t support its claims or beliefs?

53

76 reads

7. Determining relevance

One of the most difficult parts of thinking critically is figuring out what information is the most relevant, meaningful and important for your consideration. In many scenarios, you’ll be presented with information that may seem valuable, but it may turn out to be only a minor data point to consider.

Consider if a source of information is logically relevant to the issue being discussed. Is it truly useful and unbiased, or it is it merely distracting from a more pertinent point?

52

62 reads

8. Inference

Information doesn’t always come with a summary that spells out exactly what it means. Critical thinkers need to assess the information and draw conclusions based on raw data. Inference is the ability to extrapolate meaning from data and discover potential outcomes when assessing a scenario.

It is also important to understand the difference between inference and assumptions. For example, if you see data that someone weighs 260 pounds, you might assume they are overweight or unhealthy. However, other data points like height and body composition may alter that conclusion.

52

87 reads

9. Compassion and empathy

Having compassion and empathy may seem like a negative for critical thinkers. After all, being sentimental and emotional can skew our perception of a situation. But the point of having compassion is to have concern for others and to value the welfare of other people.

Without compassion, we would view all information and situations from the viewpoint of cold, heartless scientific facts and data. It would be easy to allow our cynicism to become toxic, and to be suspicious of everything we look at. But to be a good critical thinker, we must always take into account the human element.

53

56 reads

10. Humility

Humility is the willingness to acknowledge one’s shortcomings and see one’s positive attributes in an accurate way. When you have humility, you are aware of your flaws, but also your strengths, and this is an important element in critical thinking and being willing to stretch and open your mind.

When you have intellectual humility, you’re open to other people’s viewpoints, you recognize when you’re wrong and you’re willing to challenge your own beliefs when necessary.

53

54 reads

11. Willingness to challenge the status quo

Critical thinking means questioning long-established business practices and refusing to adhere to traditional methods simply because that’s the way it’s always been done. Critical thinkers are looking for smart, thoughtful answers and methods that take into account all the current and relevant information and practices available. Their willingness to challenge the status quo may seem controversial, but it’s an essential part of the creative and innovative mind of a critical thinker.

53

72 reads

12. Open-mindedness

Being able to step back from a situation and not become embroiled helps critical thinkers see the broader view. Critical thinkers avoid launching into a frenzied argument or taking sides -- they want to hear all perspectives. Critical thinkers don’t jump to conclusions. They approach a question or situation with an open mind and embrace other opinions and views.

53

55 reads

13. Awareness of common thinking errors

Critical thinkers are aware of common logical fallacies, which are errors in reasoning that often creep into arguments and debates. Some common errors in thinking include:

  • Circular reasoning, in which the premise of an argument or a conclusion is used as support for the argument itself.
  • Cognitive shortcut bias, in which you stubbornly stick to a favored view or argument when other more effective possibilities or explanations exist.
  • Confusing correlation with causation, in other words, asserting that when two things happen together, one causes the other.

53

61 reads

14. Creative thinking

Effective critical thinkers are also largely creative thinkers. Creative thinkers reject standardized formats for problem solving -- they think outside the box. They have a wide range of interests and adopt multiple perspectives on a problem. They’re also open to experimenting with different methods and considering different viewpoints.

The biggest difference between critical thinkers and creative thinkers is that creativity is associated with generating ideas, while critical thinking is associated with analyzing and appraising those ideas.

53

51 reads

15. Effectiveness In communication

In many cases, problems with communication are based on an inability to think critically about a situation or see it from different perspectives. Effective communication starts with a clear thought process.

Critical thinking is the tool we use to coherently build our thoughts and express them. Critical thinking relies on following another person’s thought process and line of reasoning. An effective critical thinker must be able to relay his or her ideas in a compelling way and then absorb the responses of others.

52

55 reads

16. Active listening

Critical thinkers don’t just want to get their point across to others; they are also careful to engage in active listening and really hear others’ points of view. Instead of being a passive listener during a conversation or discussion, they actively try to participate.

They ask questions to help them distinguish facts from assumptions. They gather information and seek to gain insight by asking open-ended questions that probe deeper into the issue.

52

51 reads

CURATED BY

xarikleia

“An idea is something that won’t work unless you do.” - Thomas A. Edison

Critical thinking is the rational, skeptical, and unbiased analysis or evaluation of factual evidence to form a judgement. It is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. A tall order, indeed.

Ready for the next level?

Read Like a Pro

stash-superman-illustration

Explore the World’s

Best Ideas

200,000+ ideas on pretty much any topic. Created by the smartest people around & well-organized so you can explore at will.

An Idea for Everything

Explore the biggest library of insights. And we've infused it with powerful filtering tools so you can easily find what you need.

Knowledge Library

Powerful Saving & Organizational Tools

Save ideas for later reading, for personalized stashes, or for remembering it later.

# Personal Growth

Take Your Ideas

Anywhere

Organize your ideas & listen on the go. And with Pro, there are no limits.

Listen on the go

Just press play and we take care of the words.

Never worry about spotty connections

No Internet access? No problem. Within the mobile app, all your ideas are available, even when offline.

Get Organized with Stashes

Ideas for your next work project? Quotes that inspire you? Put them in the right place so you never lose them.

Join

2 Million Stashers

4.8

Stars

5,740 Reviews

App Store

4.7

Stars

72,690 Reviews

Google Play

Ashley Anthony

This app is LOADED with RELEVANT, HELPFUL, AND EDUCATIONAL material. It is creatively intellectual, yet minimal enough to not overstimulate and create a learning block. I am exceptionally impressed with this app!

Sean Green

Great interesting short snippets of informative articles. Highly recommended to anyone who loves information and lacks patience.

Shankul Varada

Best app ever! You heard it right. This app has helped me get back on my quest to get things done while equipping myself with knowledge everyday.

samz905

Don’t look further if you love learning new things. A refreshing concept that provides quick ideas for busy thought leaders.

Laetitia Berton

I have only been using it for a few days now, but I have found answers to questions I had never consciously formulated, or to problems I face everyday at work or at home. I wish I had found this earlier, highly recommended!

Jamyson Haug

Great for quick bits of information and interesting ideas around whatever topics you are interested in. Visually, it looks great as well.

Giovanna Scalzone

Brilliant. It feels fresh and encouraging. So many interesting pieces of information that are just enough to absorb and apply. So happy I found this.

Ghazala Begum

Even five minutes a day will improve your thinking. I've come across new ideas and learnt to improve existing ways to become more motivated, confident and happier.

Read & Learn

20x Faster

without
deepstash

with
deepstash

with

deepstash

Access to 200,000+ ideas

Access to the mobile app

Unlimited idea saving & library

Unlimited history

Unlimited listening to ideas

Downloading & offline access

Personalized recommendations

FAQ

Claim Your Limited Offer

Get Deepstash Pro

BLACK FRIDAY

75% OFF | 1-Year Pro Subscription

Claim Offer