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Introduction - Evaluating selective perception to advance critical thinking skill! - FaCET


Evaluating selective perception to advance critical thinking skill!

Carlton A. Usher, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of First-Year Programs
Co-Coordinator of American Democracy Project
Kennesaw State University

Selective perception is basically defined as “the process by which individuals gravitate toward ideals that support their worldview and disregard the rest.” This appears to be a human instinct and it has its advantages. It creates a sense of competency by saturating the individual with supporting evidence.

Whether these supporting sources are spurious or not is a discussion that you can consider when introducing the assignment. On the other hand, my grandmother used to say that too much of a good thing is worth nothing.

More importantly, we often have to remind our students that understanding the counter arguments serves two main functions:

  • it readies them to address the counter view, and
  • it forces the believer to imagine their position through scrutiny.

In other words, if you firmly believe something, you should be willing to hear the counter arguments. Your position should not be shaken by the counter argument. Similarly, the counter arguments should hold up under scrutiny if they are sound.


Institutional Context
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Teaching with The New York Times Seminars
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 Last Modified 9/25/14