What is it about?

We presented participants with sets of example scenarios in which an individual makes a claim based on an observation, and participants categorized which fallacy or bias, if any, the individual in the scenario was committing. In two studies, we find that this critical thinking categorization practice improves performance on a delayed open-ended critical thinking assessment.

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Why is it important?

These exciting results show that critical thinking skills can be taught using a well established, specific, psychologically grounded method, and these results come at a critical juncture in our society. In a time of fake news, misinformation and a lack of critical thinking skills among the populace can have dire consequences. We believe our current results are of broad interest to educators and applied cognitive psychologists, and show promise for improving peoples’ defenses against misinformation.


Many proposed teaching strategies for improving critical thinking are very elaborate and involve extensive discussion and analysis, which makes it difficult for teachers to incorporate critical thinking instruction into their existing curriculum. We hope that our more focused approach to improving students’ critical thinking performance makes it easier to include critical thinking activities in education settings.

Benjamin Motz
Indiana University Bloomington

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This page is a summary of: Learning to call bullsh*t via induction: Categorization training improves critical thinking performance., Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, August 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/mac0000053.
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