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Top 7 Barriers to Critical Thinking: Examples and Solutions

I like to write about health and wellness-related topics, such as human psychology.

In our fast-paced, information-overloaded world, it's more critical than ever to be able to think critically. Unfortunately, there are many barriers to critical thinking that can prevent us from reaching our full potential.

In this article, we'll examine some of these barriers and discuss ways to avoid them. Whether you're a student, a professional, or just trying to improve your thinking skills, this information should give you some valuable insights.

Top 7 Barriers to Critical Thinking: Examples and Solutions

Top 7 Barriers to Critical Thinking: Examples and Solutions

Top 7 Critical Thinking Barriers

The most common barriers to critical thinking are the obstacles that occur because of how we think and the obstacles that occur because of what we think. They can be broken down into seven specific categories.

1. Egocentric Behavior

The inability to view a situation or event from another person's point of view is referred to as "egocentric thinking." Even though this is common in young children, it can happen to anyone at any age. Egocentrism results in a self-centered worldview that makes it impossible for a person to take into account the feelings of other people.

If they are suffering from cognitive bias, an egocentric person may think that everyone is watching them and that every move or choice they make is being observed. This can put that person under a lot of pressure and cause anxiety about making decisions and interacting with others. For this reason, egocentric thoughts are one of the most detrimental barriers to critical thinking.

Egocentric people find it difficult to interact with others. It is challenging for them to have healthy communication because they are unable to interpret the body language or emotional state of others. Additionally, because of this, they find it difficult to see another person's point of view on a subject. Egocentric people can only comprehend themselves.

You can use a variety of methods to lessen egocentric bias in yourself and others, such as becoming aware of the bias, using self-distancing language, raising your level of awareness, taking into account alternative viewpoints, and slowing down your thought process.

2. Drone Mentality

To have a drone mentality means that you’re facing a barrier to critical thinking that makes you practically incapable of identifying problems, analyzing situations, or solving problems.

The ability to think critically distinguishes us from animals as intelligent beings. However, there are times when our awareness wanes and we are prone to getting stuck in ruts. The drone mentality is a tendency to ignore one's surroundings, other people, or the outside world.

Symptoms include completing daily tasks without stopping to think and avoiding adding difficulties or challenges. It is simply the ability to think critically without making a conscious effort.

Keeping awareness at the forefront of your thoughts is the first step in overcoming a drone mentality. This might entail strategically placing small notes to serve as a reminder to stay alert. Take steps to overcome this barrier to critical thinking by listening intently, having natural curiosity, exercising self-control, and remaining grounded and humble.

Groupthink can be dangerous.

Groupthink can be dangerous.

3. Groupthink

Groupthink is a phenomenon that happens when people's rational desires to offer alternatives, critique a viewpoint, or voice an unpopular opinion are suppressed in favor of group consensus. It tends to occur in isolated groups, especially ones with no clear rules for decision-making, and in situations where all of the people involved have similar backgrounds. It is highly destructive to effective thinking.

The story of the Pearl Harbor bombing serves as a practical illustration of groupthink. Even though Japanese messages had been intercepted, many of the senior officers at Pearl Harbor did not take warnings from Washington, DC about a potential invasion seriously.

Those who chose not to intervene thought that the Japanese wouldn't have the audacity to attack the United States, thinking they would understand the futility of going to war with them.

To end groupthink, someone in the group needs to speak up and announce that something could be done differently. Most senior-level positions now require candidates to be more self-reliant in their thinking.

Groupthink prevents an organization from moving forward and being innovative without the input of some individual thought. Selecting teams from more diverse backgrounds and mixing genders within groups have both been used in the past to combat groupthink.

4. Social Conditioning

Social conditioning is the process of teaching people to behave in a way that is generally accepted by both the larger society and the peer groups that make up that society. Behavioral patterns and social structures are the most common categories for social conditioning's many manifestations.

An individual's societal actions and responses are influenced by and sometimes determined by the social structure in which they find themselves.

Social conditioning is a barrier to critical thinking because it instills harmful stereotypes in individuals and groups, exposes children to harmful influences, and prevents people from developing independent thought. One can be taught things by society in a variety of ways, including stereotypes, which may or may not be true.

You must stop allowing other people to control your life and begin taking responsibility for it. This is if you want to break free from the critical thinking barrier and reclaim your freedom. Although doing this might be challenging, it is the only way to chart your life course.

Thinking about your to-do list can add to your stress.

Thinking about your to-do list can add to your stress.

5. Schedule Pressure

Schedule pressure, or "hurry sickness," is the induced pressure felt by individuals or work groups to complete their tasks within a specific time frame. It is frequently conceptualized as a subordinate baseline period.

It is also known as "completion anxiety" because it essentially consists of the anxiety that you won't be able to finish a task or that your performance won't be good enough to meet other people's standards.

Obsessive thoughts about finishing a task, emotional discomfort while performing a task or right afterward, and irrational thoughts about not finishing a task are large barriers to critical thinking. Together with the restlessness that comes with schedule pressure, high levels of stress, declining work quality, fatigue, and eventually serious health issues may occur.

Slowing down and organizing your priorities are essential strategies for combating this barrier to critical thinking. At first, slowing down might feel impossible because you may worry that you’ll never get anything done. Thinking about your to-do list may add to your stress. But it's helpful to remember that you can work much more efficiently when your mind isn’t cluttered with racing thoughts.

6. Unconscious Bias

We think that the way we see things is actual reality. However, other people have slightly different perspectives than our own. Unconscious bias is one of the most common barriers to critical thinking; it happens when we forget that our experiences aren't always entirely accurate. We assume that the way we see a particular issue or circumstance is the actual situation.

As an illustration, a group is choosing their preference between two stories. While the majority of the team prefers story A, one team member believes that story B is more compelling. They influence that person, who ultimately chooses story A just because everyone else did.

To overcome this critical thinking barrier, try to spend more time with others and view things from the perspective of those who are different from you. You may be able to control and even conceal your biases if you critically evaluate what they are.

The Thinker by Rodin (1840–1917), using his critical thinking skills.

The Thinker by Rodin (1840–1917), using his critical thinking skills.

7. Arrogance and Intolerance

Arrogance is a negative attitude that adversely impairs one's capacity for critical thought. It creates a person with a closed mindset and the conviction that they already know everything and do not need further education. Arrogance causes a person to fail over the long term because it closes off his learning opportunities and prevents him from understanding the rewards and advantages of critical thinking.

Tolerance encourages attitudes of non-judgment, patience, open-mindedness, and permissiveness toward different people, ideas, and practices. In a democratic society, it is a crucial quality. Therefore, intolerance, together with an arrogant attitude, forms one of the most negative barriers to critical thinking.

We need to open our hearts and be more accepting of those around us. Practice focusing on respecting someone else's right to think for themselves. Let them believe what they want without judgment when you disagree with their viewpoint.

We must treat others with respect and extend that same courtesy to them, even when we disagree with them. We would never want that right to be taken away from us.

Sources and Further Reading

  • How Leaders Should Think Critically
    If you want to succeed in 21st Century business you need to become a critical thinker. Roger Martin of the Rotman School of Management figured this out a decade ago
  • Critical Thinking - Wikipedia
    The ability to critically analyze an argument—to dissect structure and components, thesis and reasons—is essential. But so is the ability to be flexible and consider non-traditional alternatives and perspectives.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Louise