Introduction
Are critical thinking and decision making related to one another? Are they inseparable, or are they only brought together by those who see the value of doing so? Critical thinking is generally viewed as a process which will yield an outcome (a decision, belief, or action) as a result of careful thought, consideration and evaluation. It is thought to exist on the other side of the continuum of impulse and has a tendency to correspond with the value and/or importance of the outcome being sought.
We may not think critically about what to wear when we wake up on a Saturday morning, but we may think critically about buying a house ? again, corresponding to the importance and/or weight of the decision. Yet, even within those two examples, the critical thinking process is used at different levels. While we may not think too much about what to wear on Saturday morning, we generally give much thought about what to wear for a job interview. While we may not think too much about finding an apartment, we will indeed, more often than not, participate in a comprehensive critical thinking process when it comes to buying a house.
Therefore, it may be a relatively safe assumption to believe that critical thinking exists on a very slippery slope. If it does directly correspond to one?s value placed on a decision, then we must realize that this process is used in a million different ways, by a million different people, for a million different reasons, to achieve a million different outcomes.
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Perhaps to better understand this process we should first look at the two words that serve as its roots, critical and thinking. When I hear the word critical, I automatically think about the word in a negative context because it is more than likely to be used in such a context. For example, ?Don?t be so critical!? or ?They?re in critical condition.? ? both contain negative connotations. Meadows (2009) addresses this issue as it relates to analysis:

First, please allow me to take care of an issue of semantics. You will notice that I have chosen to perform a constructive analysis instead of a critical analysis. I think it is interesting how often the word critical has been used in our readings. If we look at the general societal definition and use of the word, it is riddled with negativity ? an air of ripping apart, being demonstrative, and/or not playing an active role in overall improvement or inclusiveness. Perhaps this plays a role in unhealthy competition rather than schools of thought functioning together for the sake of improving the integrity of the entire profession?s body of work ? an issue which I find to be a detriment (p. 3-4).
Could the same hold true for the process of critical thinking? Perhaps, but my point is that we rarely read far enough into Webster?s (2007) Dictionary where it reads ?exercising or involving careful judgment or judicious evaluation? (p. 275). Would we not want to be constructive in our thought processes? After all, I want my decisions to lead to positive outcomes, not to be left dangling in critical condition as it relates to my personal and professional life. Now, thinking happens to be a never ending process, not a process that is a result of a choice ? event choosing not to think requires thought!
If you put the two words together critical and thinking, I would conclude that critical thinking is thinking that that is not only based upon evaluation and evidence, but also factors from logic and decision making. ?Critical thinking is that thinking that proceeds on the basis of careful evaluation of premises and evidence and comes to conclusion as objectively as possible through the consideration of all pertinent factors and the use of valid procedures from logic? (Carter ? Critical Thinking and Decision Making, 1973, para 1). To be a critical thinker, you have to be observant of self and others, you must describe what the situation is like or not like and you must predict what may or may not happen. For example, before pursing my masters in psychology, I didn?t know what to think or expect from myself or the program; however, after taking my first class at the University of Phoenix, I have come to the conclusion that observation, prediction and applying