The Role of Emotional Thinking in Critical Thinking

The Role of Emotional Thinking in Critical Thinking

Emotional thinking looks at the intuitive ways we and others use to define what we believe to be true. It considers the many facets of human emotion that contribute to the ways in which we communicate, make decisions, solve problems and generally "do" life.

The effects from this mode of thinking to our personal ability to be an outstanding Critical Thinker are enormous. As psychologist Daniel Goleman points out in his bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence, emotional thinking comprises "a set of traits – some might call it character – that matter immensely for our personal destiny. Emotional life is a domain that, as surely as math or reading, can be handled with greater or lesser skill, and requires its unique set of competencies. And how adept a person is at those competencies is crucial to understanding why one person thrives in life while another, of equal intellect, dead-ends: emotional aptitude is a meta-ability that determines how well we can use whatever other skills we have, including raw intellect.".

This mode of thinking demands that we tune into our intuitive ways of absorbing, integrating, and interpreting information – our emotional ways of knowing, if you will – so that we many increase the possibility of making good professional decisions that not only solve problems but also have a greater potential of emotional acceptance from others.

Tools and techniques that work well in emotional thinking related problem-solving activities include:

360 Assessment

Understanding and accepting how, in various situations, others have seen you behave is very important to understanding how the Emotional Thinking part of Critical Thinking influences your personal judgment and decision-making.


Reflection and Introspection

The wise Critical Thinker takes the time needed to reflect on all the data they have taken in concerning their new challenge and to mindfully consider any strong feelings they personally have toward making a fast decision.


Drawing, Doodling & Sketching

The spoken or written word at times can cloud or fog a situation because our language is imprecise, and words can have multiple meanings. In words we look for precision and meaning; we want to know what was meant by what was written or spoken.  In pictures and drawings, we free ourselves of the literal confines of meaning and instead look for what is spoken to us from the object we are viewing.


Dialog with Respected Others

While discussion and dialog with others concerning the problem or challenge that you face is useful in all modes of Critical Thinking (Analytical, Strategic, Systems, Emotional, or Quantum), its primary purpose here is to supply a method for checking and balancing your own emotional thinking self. Through dialog and discussion with respected others, you are provided with a sounding board for your own strong beliefs, opinions, and reactions to a situation.  You also get to see and hear how others would react to the same problem.


Emotional Thinking is very instinctive and visceral, it can be a gut reaction response based on prior experiences and/or deeply ingrained beliefs, values, and attitudes. There is nothing inherently wrong with considering your gut reactions, but the key word here is "considering."

Your "gut" may block your thought process and prematurely dismiss consideration of other points of view.

In other words, be careful that it might be rushing you to incomplete conclusions. On the other hand, do not offhandedly dismiss your developed instincts.

Emotional Thinking is an extremely valuable asset to the Critical Thinking process. Try to understand why you are reacting to a given situation the way you are. Also try to understand how and why others are reacting to the situation the way they are. Finding a solution that satisfies the emotional thinking of all people involved in the problem is important to ultimate success.

The Role of Quantum Thinking in Critical Thinking

The Role of Quantum Thinking in Critical Thinking

Using the Proper Tool

Using the Proper Tool