Sunday, September 23, 2012

Psych 700/Capstone

Critical thinking has given life to a part of me that I knew existed but did not know how to explain or access. After carefully assessing my role as a critical thinker, I used the nine strategies of life and made it a goal to reach Master Thinker (fingers crossed) status. (Validating Web Content) In order to accomplish this, critical thinking continues to have a significant impact on the way I use media, in professional practice as both a professor and creative director, through research and in my scholarly development within the Media Psychology program.

When I began to study critical thinking, I was convinced most everyone applied critical thought to basic forms of information. For instance, if I wanted a Conservative or Republican view of the Presidential race, I joined my father-in-law in his obsession with Fox News. If I wanted a Liberal or Democratic view I tuned into CNN. Amazingly, neither network acknowledges any bias. (Murdoch, 2006) Considering the source, I would then take the sum of the information and weigh it against the facts before determining my view. What I found in my limited scope of critical thinking is that I was in the minority. Not only did I misunderstand the true practice of critical thinking, my father-in-law really believed everything Fox News said. It became a one-stop-shop where not only he, but several of his friends developed an opinion of the Presidential race.

Niccolo Machiavelli created vision for political thought in The Prince. He refused to assume the government functioned as those in power said it did. Instead, he critically analyzed the agendas of politicians against the inconsistencies of politics in his day. (Machiavelli, 1532) I realized that I had taken “thinking” for granted; I was not practicing the art of critical thought. After recognizing my stage in development as Stage Four: The Practicing Thinker who recognizes the necessity of everyday practice, (The Critical Thinking Community) I was able to develop a goal while applying the practice of critical thinking in my everyday.  Much like training a muscle, I need to work out every day.

Digesting information through media is like a purchasing candy from a candy shop. Typically the display or packaging causes pause in the most conservative of purchasers, while ingredients promise consumers an explosion of flavor. Only later do you realize the true cost of the candy digested. In the same way, it’s easy to consume information media provides without realizing the impact. Over the last month, I’ve learned to consider the source of information first. Researching the credibility of each source used validates or invalidates its claim. (Validating Web Content) Understanding this information has also provided the ability to recognize framing of information I take in. This of course, is only the beginning of applying critical thinking to the way I use media. I have also become acutely aware of seeking out bias in media I consume. Richard West explains, “People who are aware of their own biases were not better able to overcome them.” (West RF, 2012) While all bias cannot be removed, I have found self-awareness to be a key ingredient as I weigh information the media provides.

Professionally, critical thinking has solidified the role of “visual critical thought”. Continuing to use the Socratic method, I encourage both students and employees alike to consider design choices. The result is design with balanced composition, purpose, creative messaging and impacting color. As I question those I work alongside, I also apply the Socratic method to further develop my own design skill. Realizing the value of visual critical thought, I have also become passionate about the introduction of critical thinking in education. At an early age, critical thought should be taught in a creative and innovative way so imagination is interwoven through the idea of being ‘critical’ and reasoned responses are combined with imaginative responses. “The aim is to create students who have a sense of aesthetic openness, but are also critically aware of the capacity of images to manipulate.” (Bamford)

Critical thinking is a liberating force in education. Developing skills as I evaluate and research in the Media Psychology program is a powerful resource. As I write, develop opinions and reconsider facts, I find that I’m more inquisitive and better informed. I hope in my research, to be open-minded and honest while facing personal bias. “Critical thinking…is a seminal goal which, done well, simultaneously facilitates a rainbow of other ends. It is best conceived, therefore, as the hub around which all other educational ends cluster.” (The Critical Thinking Community)

To think about thinking may seem foreign to some, but to an educated few, critical thinking should be highly valued and carefully developed. To make decisions about personal and civic affairs, critical thinking should be a part of our everyday lives. As media rapidly changes and information consistently explodes, our anchor should be the “question”. “Every field stays alive only to the extent that fresh questions are generated and taken seriously.” (The Critical Thinking Community)


Bamford, D. A. (n.d.). The Visual Literacy White Paper. Retrieved from
Machiavelli, N. (1532). The Prince. Florence, Italy: Antonio Blado d'Asola.
Murdoch, R. (2006, October 3). Interview Transcript: Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes. (J. Chaffin, Interviewer) Financial Times.
The Critical Thinking Community. (n.d.). Critical Thinking in Everyday Life: 9 strategies. Retrieved from
Validating Web Content. (n.d.). Retrieved from elearnspace:
West RF, M. R. (2012, June 4). Cognitive sophistication does not attenuate the bias blind spot. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology .


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