Critical Thinking Barriers

6 Steps to Beat Common Critical Thinking Barriers at Work

Critical thinking is a valuable life skill that allows us to analyze and evaluate information before making decisions. However, it can sometimes be challenging to put into practice. In this blog, we will explore the reasons why critical thinking can be complex, as well as key elements of critical thinking. We will also discuss the six most common barriers to critical thinking and provide tips on how to overcome them. Additionally, we will delve into critical thinking fallacies and categorize them into distinct types to help you identify and avoid them. Join us as we break down the barriers to critical thinking and empower you with the tools you need to make informed and logical decisions.

Why is critical thinking difficult?

Critical thinking can be challenging for many managers for a variety of reasons. After all, managers are one of the most essential units for the team’s success.

The presence of these difficulties in critical thinking makes it essential for us to focus on the causes of these difficulties to overcome them and become better critical thinkers. Following are some of those reasons. 

  • It requires effort: Critical thinking requires a conscious effort to analyze information, evaluate arguments, and make logical and informed decisions. This can be mentally taxing and time-consuming.
  • It goes against intuition: Critical thinking often requires us to question our assumptions, beliefs, and biases and to consider alternative perspectives that may challenge our preconceived notions. This can be uncomfortable and may need us to change our thinking or behavior.
  • Emotions can influence it: Emotions can influence our thinking and decision-making, leading us to make biased or irrational judgments. Critical thinking requires us to recognize and regulate our emotions to ensure that our review is objective and rational.
  • It requires knowledge and skills: Critical thinking requires knowledge of the relevant subject matter and the ability to apply logical reasoning and analytical skills. Without these skills, it can be challenging to evaluate information and make informed decisions.
  • It can be affected by external factors: Critical thinking can be influenced by external factors such as social and cultural norms, group dynamics, and the media. These factors can create biases and limit our ability to think critically.

What are the 6 barriers to critical thinking?

There are multiple critical thinking barriers that individuals may face while evaluating situations or ideas. These barriers to critical thinking can prevent working professionals from making informed decisions and may lead to poor outcomes for themselves and their organization. To overcome these critical thinking barriers, working professionals must be open-minded, seek diverse perspectives and information, and take the time necessary for thoughtful and informed decision-making. But before that, let’s learn about what these critical thinking barriers are: –

There are several critical thinking barriers that can affect working professionals, including:

Confirmation bias

Confirmation bias refers to the tendency to seek out information that confirms our existing beliefs and ideas. This can make it difficult for working professionals to consider alternative perspectives or ideas that challenge their established way of thinking.

Example: A manager is considering whether to promote an employee to a leadership role. Despite receiving feedback from the team that the employee struggles with communication, the manager focuses only on positive aspects and selects the employee for promotion, ignoring the potential red flags.

Emotional bias

Emotional bias is the tendency to make decisions based on emotions rather than logic or reason. Working professionals may become emotionally attached to their work, leading them to make decisions based on personal feelings rather than objective data.

Example: A team leader has a favorite team member who consistently falls short on deadlines. Despite this, the leader assigns critical projects to this team member due to personal affinity, ignoring the negative impact on the team’s productivity.

Limited knowledge or information

Working professionals may need more access to the necessary information or resources to make informed decisions. This can limit their thinking ability and may result in decisions based on incomplete or inaccurate information.

Example: A department head makes a decision to invest in a new software tool without fully researching its compatibility with existing systems. This decision leads to disruptions and compatibility issues that were not initially anticipated.

Time constraints

Working professionals often face tight deadlines and multiple responsibilities, leaving little time for in-depth critical thinking. This can result in rushed or snap decisions rather than thoughtful and informed ones.

Example: A project manager, pressed for time, rushes into implementing a new strategy without conducting thorough research or considering potential consequences. This haste leads to a flawed strategy and unintended negative outcomes.

Social or cultural bias

Social or cultural biases can influence our thinking, leading us to make assumptions or judgments based on stereotypes or preconceived notions. Working professionals may be subject to social or cultural biases within their industry or organization, limiting their ability to think critically and objectively.

Example: A senior executive consistently assigns the most challenging tasks to a specific demographic group, underestimating the capabilities of other teams based on stereotypes, thus missing out on diverse skill sets.


Groupthink occurs when a group of people conforms to a consensus opinion rather than thinking critically and independently. Working professionals may be subject to groupthink within their organization or team, which can limit their ability to consider alternative perspectives and ideas.

Example: During a brainstorming session, team members quickly latch onto the first idea suggested by the manager, avoiding offering alternative suggestions to avoid dissent. This conformity stifles creativity and potentially overlooks more effective solutions.

How to overcome critical thinking barriers as a manager?

Critical thinking is an essential skill that helps us to make informed decisions and solve complex problems. Identifying and overcoming the critical thinking barriers is crucial to ensure that we make the most informed decisions. Recognizing barriers to critical thinking and taking steps to overcome them will help managers make more informed decisions and solve complex problems with efficiency.

There are several ways to overcome critical thinking barriers:

  • Be aware of biases: Recognize and acknowledge your own preferences and assumptions. This will help you to evaluate information objectively and consider alternative perspectives.
  • Seek out diverse perspectives: Expose yourself to a variety of viewpoints and opinions. This can help you to challenge your own beliefs and assumptions and to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the subject matter.
  • Ask questions: Question everything, including your assumptions and the assumptions of others. Ask questions to clarify information, identify underlying assumptions, and evaluate arguments.
  • Analyze information: Take the time to analyze data and evaluate arguments. Use critical thinking skills, such as logic and reasoning, to assess the validity and reliability of the information.
  • Consider the context: Consider the context in which information is presented. Be aware of external factors that may influence your thinking, such as social and cultural norms, group dynamics, and the media.
  • Practice: Critical thinking is a skill that can be developed and improved with practice. Make a conscious effort to think critically in your daily life, whether it is at work, in your personal life, or in the media you consume.
Overall, overcoming barriers to critical thinking requires a conscious effort to recognize and address biases, seek out diverse perspectives, analyze information, consider the context, and practice critical thinking skills. By doing so, you can become a more effective and informed thinker, able to make logical and informed decisions. 

Read on to know about how to overcome the 10 most common manager biases at work!

What are Fallacies? 

Fallacies are errors in reasoning that can occur in arguments. They are flaws in an argument that can make it seem more persuasive than it is. Fallacies can take many forms, but they all involve mistakes or errors in the reasoning used to support a conclusion.

For example, an argument may be flawed because it relies on faulty assumptions, ignores essential evidence, or makes a logical error. A fallacy might also involve using emotional appeals, ad hominem attacks, or other tactics to persuade people without relying on sound reasoning. Recognizing fallacies is an integral part of critical thinking because it allows you to evaluate arguments more objectively and avoid being misled or deceived. By understanding the common types of fallacies, you can become a more effective communicator and thinker and make better decisions based on evidence and reason.

What are critical thinking fallacies?

Critical thinking fallacies refer to errors or mistakes in reasoning that affect the ability to assess different perspectives, draw accurate conclusions, and make sound decisions. Here are some common types of in critical thinking fallacies, along with examples:

  • Ad hominem fallacy: Attacking the character or personal traits of an individual rather than addressing the substance of their argument. For example, “I can’t believe anything he says; he’s a known liar.”
  • Appeal to authority fallacy: Supporting an idea with an authority figure rather than presenting evidence or logical reasoning. For example, “Dr. Smith says that this treatment is effective, so it must be true.”
  • False cause fallacy: Assuming that one event caused another simply because it happened before the second event. For example, “I wore my lucky socks, and we won the game, so my socks must have caused the win.”
  • Straw man fallacy: Misrepresenting an opponent’s argument to make it easier to attack. For example, “My opponent thinks we should do nothing about climate change, which is ridiculous.”
  • Slippery slope fallacy: Suggesting that one event will inevitably lead to a chain of events without presenting evidence or logical reasoning. For example, “If we allow gay marriage, next we’ll be allowing people to marry animals.”
  • False dichotomy fallacy: Presenting an argument as if there are only two options when in fact, there are more. For example, “Either you’re with us, or you’re against us.”
  • Hasty generalization fallacy: Making a generalization based on insufficient or unrepresentative evidence. For example, “I met one rude French person, so all French people must be rude.”
  • Red herring fallacy: Introducing an unrelated topic to distract from the main argument. For example, “I know my proposal is controversial, but what about all the good things I’ve done for this company?”
  • Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy: Assuming that one event caused another simply because it happened after the first event. For example, “I took this pill, and then my cold went away, so the pill must have cured my cold.”
  • False analogy fallacy: Comparing two things that are not similar enough to support the conclusion drawn. For example, “Driving a car is like flying a plane, so if you can do one, you can do the other.


In conclusion, critical thinking is a necessary skill that is essential to our success. However, it can be challenging to develop it and maintain without being aware of the hurdles that can block critical thinking. By identifying these critical thinking barriers and actively working to overcome them, we can sharpen our skills and become more effective problem-solvers. Additionally, it’s important to recognize the common critical thinking fallacies as well that can mislead us and distort our thinking. Developing a clear understanding of the different fallacies and how they can arise is an essential step toward improving our overall critical thinking skills.

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Is bias a barrier to critical thinking?

Yes, bias can be a significant barrier to critical thinking. When individuals approach a problem or decision with preconceived notions or a predetermined outcome, they may overlook important information or fail to consider alternative perspectives. Therefore, it is essential to recognize and acknowledge one’s own biases to engage in objective and thorough critical thinking. By actively seeking out diverse perspectives and questioning one’s assumptions, individuals can overcome biases and approach problems with a more open and analytical mindset.

Is stress a barrier to critical thinking?

Yes, stress can be a barrier to critical thinking. When stressed, the brain releases cortisol, which can impair our ability to think critically and creatively. It can also lead to reduced focus, increased anxiety, and difficulty in making decisions. Therefore, it’s essential to manage stress levels carefully and practice mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, to alleviate stress and improve critical thinking skills.

What are the two main obstacles to critical thinking?

The two main obstacles to critical thinking are biases and assumptions. Biases refer to our preconceived notions or opinions about a topic, while assumptions are beliefs we take for granted without questioning their validity. Both biases and assumptions can lead us to overlook important information or make incorrect conclusions, hindering our ability to think critically. Therefore, it is vital to be aware of our biases and assumptions and consciously question and evaluate the evidence before making decisions or forming opinions.

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