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Thinker's Attitudes


Much of  this material is drawn from    http://classweb.howardcc.edu/jbell/booklets/Ch1_Critical_Thinking_F01.pdf which includes a good coverage of the literature on the attitudes of effective thinkers. First, here are a number of perspectives.


Attitudes Necessary for Critical Thinking (D’Angelo (1971) , The Teaching of Critical Thinking. Amsterdam: B. R. Gruner N. V.)

(1) Intellectual curiosity
(2) Objectivity
(3) Open-mindedness
(4) Flexibility
(5) Intellectual skepticism
(6) Intellectual honesty
(7) Being systematic
(8) Persistence
(9) Decisiveness
(10) Respect for other viewpoints. (pp. 7-8)


Critical thinking: What every person needs to survive in a rapidly changing world. (Paul, R. W. (1992). Rohnert Park, CA: The Center for Critical Thinking and Moral Critique.)

S-1 thinking independently
S-2 developing insight into egocentricity or sociocentricity
S-3 exercising fair mindedness
S-4 exploring thoughts underlying feelings and feelings underlying thoughts

S-5 developing intellectual humility and suspending judgment
S-6 developing intellectual courage
S-7 developing intellectual good faith or integrity
S-8 developing intellectual perseverance
S-9 developing confidence in reason


Attitudes of Effective Thinkers (Costa and Lowery, 1989, Techniques for teaching thinking). quoted from Chapter 7

1. Persistence: persevering when the solution to a problem is not immediately apparent
2. Decreasing impulsivity
3. Listening to others -- with understanding and empathy
4. Flexibility in thinking
5. Metacognition. Awareness of own thinking.
6. Checking for accuracy and precision.
7. Questioning and problem posing
8. Drawing on past experiences and knowledge
9. Transference beyond the learning situation
10. Precision of language and thought
11. Wonderment, inquisitiveness, curiosity, and the enjoyment of problem solving
12. Cooperative thinking.

The End Product of Education is the Inquiring Mind. (Paul, 1986, quoted in Dimensions of thinking, 1988, by Marzano et al.)

1. A passionate drive for clarity, accuracy, and fair-mindedness
2. A fervor for getting to the bottom of things
3. Listening sympathetically to opposite points of view
4. A compelling drive to seek out evidence
5. An intense aversion to contradiction, sloppy thinking, and inconsistent application of standards
6. A devotion to truth as against self-interest. (p. 2)


Attitudes Essential For "Good Thinking" (Burton et al, 1960, Education for effective thinking. NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts. Quoted. There is a newer edition of this book.)

1. Intellectual curiosity...
2. Intellectual honesty, acceptance of responsibility for process and result...
3. Objectivity...
4. Intelligent skepticism or suspension of judgment; criticalness...
5. Open-mindedness...
6. Conviction of universal cause-and-effect relationships...
7. Disposition to be systematic...
8. Flexibility...
9. Persistence.
10. Decisiveness...
11. Respect for another's view...
12. Candor and expectancy of candor...
13. Careful listening. (pp. 38-39).


Selected Thinking Dispositions (from Barry Beyer's Practical Strategies for the Teaching of Thinking (1987), Boston: Allyn and Bacon. quoted from p. 212.)

1. Select a clear statement of a problem, a thesis, a question.
2. Deliberately examine a variety of viewpoints.
3. Seek to be well informed.
4. Use credible sources.
5. Seek a number of alternatives.
6. Seek/give reasons.
7. Seek/provide evidence.
8. Be open-minded.
9. Be willing to change a position/judgment when evidence and reasoning are sufficient to do so.
10. Judge in terms of situations, issues, purposes, and consequences (not in terms of fixed, dogmatic precepts or emotional, wishful thinking).
11. Persist in carrying out a thinking task.
12. Be slow to believe--be skeptical.
13. Be objective.
14. Suspend judgment when appropriate/sufficient evidence and reasoning are lacking.


Core Dispositions which Promote Critical Thinking: (Lendman, Christy. (1995). Core components of curricula which promote critical thinking in postsecondary education: Summary of results. Handout from the author. quoted.)

Trusts in reason
Independent of mind
open mindedness
fair mindedness
willing to reconsider


These lists may seem mind-bending initially, but it can be a very worthwhile activity as a staff to sort and group the different attitudes listed, and then extract your own set of core attitudes. The following is a set established by one of the schools I worked  with in 2006. They established a set of 7 core attitudes that they would strive to model and to encourage in their students.



Recognise that their understanding may be limited or built on false premise, bias or assumptions.

They are willing to suspend judgment when information is insufficient.



Willing to challenge and query, determined to understand and make sense of things.



The determination to examine their own attitudes, beliefs and thoughts by the same standards they apply to others.



A willingness to review their own opinions, beliefs, thoughts and attitudes in the light of   further information and input.



Willing to pursue questions, ideas and thoughts regardless of any difficulties and obstructions.



Confident that the strategies and skills they are developing  will lead them to better decisions and solutions.


Willing to consider validity of opposing points of view

Willing to examine something from a different base

Willing to accept the possibility of being wrong.