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 a solution.

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 attention.

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 labeled it.

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


Maslow's Self-Actualization

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.


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 two.


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 classroom learning.

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 idea.


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.


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 and creativity.


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



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.


1.Explain what bisociation is. Give two examples of bisociation at work in the discovery of DNA structure.

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!


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 themes.