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17 Examples of Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking skills are talents and knowledge that allow an individual to objectively discover and evaluate information to produce valid analysis or a defensible opinion. This is considered a foundational skill that is a basis for academic and professional performance. The following are common critical thinking skills.


The ability to remain objective such that evidence is presented without shaping it to fit your ideology, goals or biases.


The ability to discover information and evaluate sources.

Rational Thought

The ability to form arguments and analysis that can be deemed reasonable given context such as culture. The term rational thought can be used to describe thought that handles human complexities such as emotions and social realities.


Logic is a formalized thought process such as inference. Logic always relies on assumptions known as premises such that it is garbage-in-garbage-out. Traditional logic is also limited due to a property known as excluded middle whereby it can't consider grey areas and probability.


Analysis is the process of systematically structuring information in order to understand or communicate it. For example, developing a set of criteria for evaluating options and then collecting data for each option to make a decision.


Introspection is the process of examining your own thoughts and emotions. This is important to critical thinking as it allows you to self-correct flaws in your thinking.

Biases & Fallacies

Knowledge of common biases and fallacies is helpful for challenging arguments including your own. For example, the ability to identify motivated thinking in yourself.


The ability to criticise ideas in a constructive way that is productive and socially acceptable. For example, the ability to gently influence someone with far more formal authority than you in an organizational setting.

Modes of Thinking

Critical thinking is often confused with cynicism or skepticism. In fact, critical thinking is adaptive to the situation. For example, in a business setting pragmatism is typically more productive than skepticism that can easily be perceived as defeatism. Other modes of thinking include optimism, defensive pessimism and counterfactual thinking.

Emotional Intelligence

The ability to find and communicate emotional meaning. For example, the ability to understand how a protagonist of fiction feels as opposed to remaining stuck in the technical details of the work.

Systems Thinking

Systems thinking is the ability to contemplate the end-to-end impact of change to a complex system.


The ability to identify non-obvious ideas.

Convergent Thinking

The ability to solve a problem with a known solution.

Divergent Thinking

The ability to solve a problem that has many solutions in a reasonably optimal way.

Design Thinking

Design thinking is the process of designing something to solve a problem or form an opinion. For example, designing a model for organizing information that can be used to make a decision.

Intellectual Courage

The courage to ask questions, challenge assumptions, present your best ideas and communicate with candor. This can be quite difficult in an environment of groupthink or intensive politics.

Personal Resilience

The resilience to openly debate with people with whom you may strongly disagree without becoming overly stressed. For example, the ability to continue with an argument you believe in despite strong criticism or negativity.
Overview: Critical Thinking Skills
Talents and knowledge that allow an individual to objectively discover and evaluate information to produce valid analysis or a defensible opinion.
Related Concepts

Critical Thinking Skills

This is the complete list of articles we have written about critical thinking skills.
Design Thinking
Excluded Middle
Grey Areas
Motivated Thinking
Personal Resilience
Rational Thought
Research Skills
Synthesis Of Information
Systems Thinking
Thought Process
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