critical thinking, assumptions, implications


Critical thinking in psychology has traditionally focused on method-centered tasks such as the assessment of method use, data analysis, and research evidence. Although helpful in some ways, this form of critical thinking fails to provide resources for critically examining the scientific-analytic foundation on which it rests and, when used exclusively, prohibits sufficiently critical analysis of theory and research. An alternative view of critical thinking—that emphasizes the identification and evaluation of implicit theoretical assumptions—is advocated. It is suggested that this alternative approach improves upon method-centered approaches by addressing not only implicit assumptions but also rule-following concerns. This approach is intended to facilitate innovation and the production of scholarly work, in ways that incorporate relational values such as dialogue, care, and respect. Finally, this alternative form of critical thinking is described as a theoretically-situated, open, and evolving conception of critique that should itself be continually re-analyzed and refined, particularly in response to the evolving nature and needs of the field.

Original Publication Citation

Yanchar SC, Slife BD, Warne R. Critical Thinking as Disciplinary Practice. Review of General Psychology. 2008;12(3):265-281. doi:10.1037/1089-2680.12.3.265

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Review of General Psychology




David O. McKay School of Education


Instructional Psychology and Technology

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor