Midterm 1 Study Guide, Psych 330
From Lecture & Handouts:
A. Know the steps in Halpern's framework for critical thinking. Reviewed below.
B. Know the names of the eight activities (each has an alternate term, but just need to know the
main ones on the picture), and be able to match up descriptions of these activities with the correct
name. SEE YOUR HANDOUT.
C. Know the steps in the paramedic method, and be prepared to apply them to a problem
sentence. Steps given below.
Diana Halpern's (1996) Framework for Critical Thinking
Definition: Critical thinking is the use of cognitive skills or strategies that increase the
probability of a good outcome. CT is purposeful, reasoned, and goal-directed.
Answer the following questions:
1. What is the goal?
First step in improving thinking is to be clear about the goal or goals. Sometimes there
are multiple goals; sometimes the goal changes as we work on a problem. If the overall
goal is not OPERATIONAL (i.e., "get a good grade" or "reach a good decision"), then
identify operational goals (write clearly, address all elements of the assignment, evaluate
the consequences of alternative decisions).
2. What is known?
Review what is known. You may know more than you realize, once you start taking a
census. You may also realize that some of the apparently information is not certain at all.
If you are completing an assignment or solving a problem for someone else, review
guidelines for the assignment and ask yourself what the person cares about and values in
3. Which thinking skills will get you to your goal? [apply skills]
How will you get there? Generate some tactics, strategies. Diagram the problem.
Analyze written materials for underlying assumptions. Consider the credibility of
evidence and experts. Scrutinize words for ambiguity, emotional bias, flawed logic. What
are the limitations of metaphors or analogies? Ask questions. Explain the problem to
someone else to get a better grasp on it yourself.
4. Have you reached your goal?
Did you solve the problem you set out to solve? Check your solution against the criteria.
Does it work? Are all subgoals addressed? Does you solution exhibit the qualities that
your audience/customer/employer values?
PARAMEDIC METHOD: (Adapted from Lanham, 1979)
1. Circle the prepositions (usually found at the beginning of a phrase--to, of, in, etc.)
2. Circle all forms of the verb "to be" (is, was, seems to be, etc.)
NOTE: steps 1 & 2 tell you whether a sentence is problematic and needs paramedic
3. Find the real action, actor, and target.
4. Express this in simple active verb.
Steps 3 & 4 tell you how to cure the problem of wordy, clumsy train-wreck sentences,
turning them into clear, concise, lively prose.
5. Start fast--no mindless introductions; and end crisply--no mindless conclusions.
Step 5 is a reminder to check beginnings and endings to be sure the sentences have real
CONTENT, and aren't just meaningless collections of words.
Tools of Critical Thinking
This part of the study guide identifies key points you should know from each chapter of
CRITICAL THINKING. You should be able to recognize examples of different errors and
fallacies, and also to generate your own examples, if called for. In other words, you need to go
beyond memorizing a definition to understand what it means.
Chapter 1: The Evaluative Bias of Language
Our use of a term serves to describe and prescribe what is desirable or undesirable to us.
Because of the evaluative bias of language, we must become aware of our own personal values
and to communicate these values as fairly as possible.
Chapter 2: The reification error
Reification error: treating abstract concepts as if they were concrete objects.
Theory: a proposed explanation of observed phenomena.
Event theory: provides explanations that may be measurable
Construct theory: provides explanations not directly measurable
Chapter 3: Multiple levels of description
Any given event can be described at different levels of analysis. Psychological and physical
events are linked. However, it does not follow that biological correlates of psychological events
cause these events, or vice versa.
Chapter 4: The nominal fallacy and tautologous reasoning
Nominal fallacy: when we assume that we have explained a phenomenon because we have
Tautological reasoning: circular reasoning
Chapter 5: Differentiating dichotomous variables and continuous variables:
Dichotomous variables: phenomena that may be divided into two mutually exclusive categories.
Continuous variables: phenomena that consist of a theoretically infinite number of points lying
between two ends of a continuum.
We have a tendency to dichotomize continuous variables.
Theoretical and Clinical Applications:
Neo-Freudian application - splitting
Cognitive application - "black-or-white" thinking changes to seeing "shades of gray"
Chapter 6: Consider the opposite
To understand a phenomenon, it is important to consider the opposite.
Example: Jung's concept of enantiodromia
Freud's concept of reaction formation
Prescribing the symptom (paradoxical intention)
Chapter 7: The similarity-uniqueness paradox:
Many times, an individual's cognitive schema influences perceptions of similarities and
differences between phenomena.
Point of critical distinction (PCD): Point at which phenomena no longer seem similar, but begin
to seem different. See Figure 7-1 for diagrams showing different levels of overlap. The PCD
will fall somewhere in the "gray" regions covered by Figures 3 & 4.
Sources of error:
Differences obscured by similarities & similarities obscured by differences
Chapter 8: The naturalistic fallacy:
Naturalistic fallacy: Defining what is good in terms of what is observable
Erickson's Healthy Ego Functioning
Chapter 9: The Barnum Effect:
Barnum Statement: personality description about an individual that could describe anyone.
Barnum Effect: people's willingness to accept such statements.
Notebooks of the Mind
TIP: There will be SEVERAL short answer questions dealing with this book. The questions will
look similar to these questions.
Ch 1. THE BEGINNINGS
1. What, according to this chapter, do young children learn via the thinking of the body? Give
three examples from the discussion of Piaget's ideas.
2. In the Language of Vision section, the early stages of an adult artist's work are compared to
the perceptual processes of children. Identify three similarities and one difference between the
Ch. 2. APPRENTICESHIPS
1. This chapter discusses several ways in which apprenticeships differ from traditional schooling
in promoting the full development of creative discipline and identity. Identify two ways that
apprenticeships especially benefit creative development that are rarely provided in traditional
2. John-Steiner identifies creative intensity as a characteristic of intellectually productive people.
Give two pieces of evidence (from the book--don't invent!) that support the idea that loss or
trauma in childhood promotes this intensity. Give one piece of evidence that contradicts this
Ch 3. INVISIBLE TOOLS
1. Under the Bag of Memories, several contrasts are made between different
kinds of memory. Give one distinction among two kind of memory given by a
creative person (a film-maker, composer, or poet) and one distinction made
by a psychologist.
2. Discipline has many functions or applications in maintaining creative
productivity. Name 4 and describe them briefly.
Ch 4. VISUAL THINKING
1. Name and briefly describe 2 main differences between visual and verbal thinking. (Hint:
consider differences between visual and verbal thinking of scientists in different fields, and also
the role of social conventions in visual and verbal thinking.)
2. In the section "The Genesis of Visual Expression," the importance of early experiences in
shaping an artist's later work and creativity is discussed. Name and discuss one important and
primary aspect of a child's life that can have a significant impact on their later artistic abilities
Ch. 5. VERBAL THINKING
1. Name four differences between Inner Speech and Writing as different
forms of language. (Note: this is also discussed at the end of Ch. 1.)
2. What is the thinking-aloud method? Name one finding based on this
method, and one mistaken notion (according to John-Steiner) associated
with this method.
3. Name two functions served by children's habit of talking to
Ch. 6. THE LANGUAGES OF EMOTION
1. In examining the nature of creative thought, what 2 primary areas (according to your book)
have psychologists and psychiatrists chosen as their focus?
2. Name two main things that the NM book considers important for nourishing the creativity and
musical expression of young composers.
Ch. 7. SCIENTIFIC THINKING
1.Explain what bisociation is. Give two examples of bisociation at work in the discovery of
2. Identify three ways that young scientists develop their scientific intuition.
3. Identify four "invisible tools" (emotional resources and character traits) that support
productive scientific thought. Be specific!
Conclusion: THE CREATIVITY OF THINKING
1. What does the author of the NM book mean by the expression, "the scaffolding of thought?"
Why is this important for creativity?
2. In the "Creativity of Thinking" chapter, the author discusses 3 major themes that have emerged
in the NM book's examination of the processes of thought. Name and briefly discuss these