Social psychology and critical thinking

I’m taking social psychology this semester, and I decided that one of my assignments could probably double as a blog post, as long as no one got terribly offended. At any rate, our prompt was “Identify a current event/issue that exemplifies what happens when people fail to think critically. Explain why you believe this is a good example by using the 8 guidelines of thinking critically…what steps did people fail to follow?” I’m simply going to copy and paste my reply.

I can think of many current events that are an example of what happens when people fail to think critically. However, the one that I thought to be the most relevant will bring you back to late July and early August. I didn’t want to write about something really controversial, but this was the best example I could think of: Chick-fil-A and the debate about gay marriage. If you think about if from a neutral standpoint, then neither side really uses critical thinking. This has resulted in people boycotting and protesting Chick-fil-A, “kiss-ins”, as well as massive support on Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.

Chick-fil-A says that they support “traditional marriage.” However, some people consider traditional marriage to be your first marriage. If you’ve been remarried, some people believe that it isn’t traditional. A traditional family is also defined as only biological children and their biological parents by some sociologists. Step children and step parents, as well as children, who are adopted, don’t count. This is an example of not properly defining terms. Some people may not be on the same page when it comes to the word “traditional.”

In some cases, neither side examines evidence. If your parents support gay marriage, you are more likely to do so without question. If your parents raised you to believe that marriage is only between a man and a woman, then you’re more likely to just go with it. People often follow the beliefs of church members, family and friends without thinking for themselves and coming to their own conclusions.

Both sides also over simplify the decision to support or oppose gay marriage. They seem to believe that you’re either totally for it or totally against it. That isn’t always the case. People can have mixed emotions about these issues. (I’ve heard people say recently that if you support gay marriage then you can’t eat at Chick-fil-A. This is oversimplifying the situation, in my opinion. I see no reason why you can’t eat at a restaurant and still support your personal beliefs.

The biggest reason critical thinking failed in this issue is because both sides made no move to avoid emotional reasoning. Both sides have intense feelings, obviously. I recently saw comments from both sides on a social networking site (you can see the comments here, if you want) where they were belittling each other. They weren’t even bothering to state a point to defend their opinion; they just kept stating that the other side is wrong. No one was open to trying to see the other side’s opinion at all.

In my opinion, everyone should take the time to think this issue through using guidelines from the lecture. Perhaps a compromise could be made, or at the very least, people would be more educated and open to other opinions.

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10 thoughts on “Social psychology and critical thinking

  1. I suspect that when a range of different views are reduced to a narrative about two different sides, the result will inevitably be oversimplification of each. This may be less a case of people not using critical thinking than wherein much of that thinking is left off the page.

  2. I would like to make one comment, one to which I try my best to live… am I devoid of all actions and practices that might upset someone else..? If I could answer that in all honesty that I am, then I would voice an opinion… if not I keep quiet and let others live the life they choose… I’ve been married for 38 years and if a gay marriage makes someone as happy as I am… who am I to judge… the splinter in the eye comes to mind… I don’t like pushing religion as again I think we are all entitled to believe what we want and to bring it into gay marriage is trying to put your belief in the face of another… wrong… it is a controversial item on which to write and I admire your point of view… well done…

    • I certainly wasn’t saying that I support or oppose gay marriage. Everyone has the right to be happy, it’s a basic human freedom. I tried my best to be objective when writing this as to not offend anyone! Thanks so much (:

      • and I think you did a great job of that, and certainly offended no one, and in the same light I was not saying you did… I was making a point about the whole debate and fiasco that is taking part at the moment in this vane… and I’m saying that people that are siding at the moment need to ensure that they are clear of sin before they attack other peoples life style… I was expressing my own opinion and admiring the fact you took on such a controversial subject in such a magnificent way…

      • In my opinion, people don’t have the right to judge others. Everyone sins, and I can’t say that anyone else’s faults are greater than mine. Thanks for your kind words! I appreciate all the feedback I get!

  3. Great post! For me, it’s not about Dan Cathy’s “statement of faith”. To begin with, it’s a privately held company, and they can say what they want. For me, it’s about where my money goes after I fork it over, and I don’t know why it’s so hard for so many people to understand this. They donate millions to several anti-equality groups, one of which is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Even if it weren’t about marriage equality, one of the groups they donate to was founded by Phyllis Schlafly, a woman who proudly boasts that she was single-handedly responsible for the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment for women. She believes women should get out of the office and back into the kitchen where we “belong”.

    I like your essay. Much calmer than my own post (“Eat More Fish”) on the subject. Then again, I’d had it up to my eyeballs with things I was seeing/hearing/reading about those of us who are giving up Chik-Fil-A for good. Hope you get an “A”!!

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