Critical Thinking Components

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The assessment was constructed by the Stanovich, West, and Toplak Research Lab. Stanovich discussing the importance of a comprehensive assessment of rationality (Interview with Stanovich, Hale 2016): “Why does society need a comprehensive assessment of rational thinking?

CART assesses epistemic and instrumental rationality. To be globally rational in our modern society you must have the behavioral tendencies and knowledge bases that are assessed on the CART to a sufficient degree.

There are myriad studies examining components of critical thinking (Stanovich, West, and Toplak 2016).

Educators often pay lip service to the idea of teaching “critical thinking.” But, when asked to define , answers are often weak and ambiguous.

The questions used on the test are presented here: ,

In 2016, a prototype for a comprehensive assessment of rationality was made public: CART (Comprehensive Assessment of Rational Thinking).Total percentage of correct answers was 19 percent.The tasks used were similar to the ones often used by Stanovich, Kahneman, and Frederick (Stanovich 2009; Kahneman 2011; Frederick 2005).Most people are rational, if rational means an ability to provide some form of a reason for their behavior or actions.Cognitive science provides a different conceptualization of rationality—one that is consistent and subject to testing.In a 2012 study (Hale 2012), I presented students with questions derived from critical thinking tests.The critical thinking tasks were cover tasks; the primary concern of the study was expectation and food liking.A wide variety of cognitive skills (cognitive style / thinking dispositions and cognitive ability) fall within these domains of knowledge.Components of critical thinking have been operationalized in a wide range of studies.In order to optimize rationality one needs adequate knowledge in the domains of logic, scientific thinking, and probabilistic thinking.It is also essential that reflective processing (overriding fast thinking that leads to incorrect responses) occur at appropriate times.


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