Course: PSYC*1000 (DE)
Professor: Harvey Marmurek
Schedule: Summer, 2012
Textbook: Psychology – Tenth Edition in Modules authored by David G. Myers
Textbook ISBN: 9781464102615
Module 02: Thinking Critically with Psychological Science
The Need for Psychological Science
How do hindsight bias, overconfidence, and the tendency to perceive order in random events illustrate why
science-based answers are more valid than those based on intuition and common sense?
Three phenomena – hindsight bias, judgmental overconfidence, and our tendency to perceive patterns in random
events – illustrate why we cannot rely solely on intuition and common sense. The point to remember is that all three
of these phenomena often lead us to overestimate our intuition. But scientific inquiry can help us sift reality from
Hindsight Bias: the tendency to believe, after learning an outcome, that one would have foreseen it. (Also known as
the I-knew-it-all-along phenomenon.)
Overconfidence: thinking we know more than we do.
Perceiving Order in Random Events: when sequences often don’t look random and are then over interpreted.
How do the scientific attitude’s three main components relate to critical thinking?
The Scientific Attitude: Curious, skeptical, and humble
• Curiosity – passion to explore and understand without misleading or being misled.
• To sift reality from fantasy, sense from nonsense, therefore requires a scientific attitude: being skeptical but
not cynical, open but not gullible.
• Curious skepticism – persistently asking two questions – what do you mean, how do you know.
• Humility – an awareness of our own vulnerability to error and an openness to surprises and new
How does the scientific attitude contribute to critical thinking?
The scientific attitude combines (1) curiosity about the world around us, (2) skepticism toward various
claims and ideas, and (3) humility about one’s own understanding. Evaluating evidence, assessing conclusions, and
examining our own assumptions are essential parts of critical thinking.
Critical Thinking: thinking that does not blindly accept arguments and conclusions. Rather, it examines
assumptions, discerns hidden values, evaluates evidence, and assesses conclusions.
Frequently Asked Questions About Psychology
Can laboratory experiments illuminate everyday life?
• The experimenter intends the lab environment to be a simplified reality. An experiment’s purpose is not to
recreate the exact behaviours of everyday life but to test theoretical principles. It is the resulting principles –
not the specific findings – that help explain everyday behaviours.
• Psychological science focuses less on particular behaviours than on seeking general principles that help
explain many behaviours.
Does behaviour depend on one’s culture and gender?
• WEIRD cultures – Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic
• Culture – shared ideas and behaviours – shapes our behaviour.
• We are each in certain respects like all others, like some others, and like no other. • Even when specific attitudes and behaviours va