The quality of a solution produced by the application of a critical thinking skill is likely to be affected by how well the skill is executed. Decrements in performance may be produced by failing to apply an essential component (e.g., failing to clarify ambiguous information in a message or failing to consider alternative explanations for a pattern of data), failing to perform accurately a component of the skill, or by lacking sufficient knowledge to be processed. Therefore, one could apply critical thinking and still produce inferior solutions to a task. Moreover, it is not possible to determine whether System 1 or System 2 was applied to derive a solution based on the solution alone. The quality of a solution may also be affected by moderating variables such as educational level and experience. These issues are important to the design of training that seeks to improve critical thinking skills.

Figure 2 shows that negative experiential consequences serve as both a byproduct of critical thinking and as input to the decision to maintain a critical thinking episode, as depicted by the bidirectional arrow. When the affective consequences of applying the critical thinking skill become too negative, the motivation to maintain the episode is decreased. If the negative consequences are sufficiently strong, they may result in a cessation of the episode.

Finally, it should be recognized that effective critical thinking depends on gaining insights as well as reducing mistakes (Klein, 2011). Critical thinking is valuable for reducing mistakes but, in the process, may interfere with the process of gaining insights. It is notable that the concept formulated by the American Philosophical Society (1990) encompassed both reducing mistakes (by analyzing arguments, assessing claims, querying evidence and justifying procedures) and enhancing insights (by decoding significance, examining ideas, and conjecturing alternatives).


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