Critical thinking focuses on the here and now. When you think critically, you concern yourself with what you think is happening and how you will deal with a given situation. How you behave depends on your beliefs. Critical thinking concerns beliefs and behaviors.
Beliefs are interpretations, evaluations, conclusions, and predictions you consider to be true. If you believe that women are not mechanically inclined, you may not think a woman can change a car’s spark plus. If you have failed mathematics in the past, you may have mistakenly concluded that you can’t do math.
Your beliefs guide your behaviors. The physical and mental skills you’ve acquired, such as driving a car or reciting the multiplication tables, were influenced by your belief that they were important. The only behaviors not influenced by beliefs are those that are automatic (that is, bodily functions and reflexes).
Why and When to Think Critically
You need critical thinking to help you solve problems or make decisions that are important to you. Many common behaviors, such as bathing and eating, don’t require daily critical thinking. You perform them based on previously established beliefs.
Being in new situations calls for critical thinking. Seeing new products, hearing dramatic news stories, and experiencing personal or work problems all require you to decide what you believe.