Personality traits and critical thinking skills in college students: Empirical tests of a two-factor theory.

The two-factor theory defines critical thinking skills as a combined effect of cognitive abilities and personality dispositions. Although the available research supports the association between critical thinking and measures of cognitive ability, the specific traits contained in the dispositional factor have not been clearly identified through empirical research. In Study 1, 101 undergraduate students completed the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (WGCTA), three subtests of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale–Third Edition, and the revised NEO Personality Inventory. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses showed that Openness to Experience scores accounted for significant incremental variance in WGCTA scores beyond that accounted for by Similarities subtest scores. In Study 2, similar analyses of data from 105 students also showed significant incremental effects for Openness to Experience, even after more variance in the cognitive factor was accounted for by the Verbal Comprehension Index. Implications of these findings for the enhancement of critical thinking skills in college students are discussed.

Main Author: Clifford, Jennifer S.
Other Authors: Boufal, Magdalen M., Kurtz, John E.
Format: Villanova Faculty Authorship
Language: English
Published: 2004
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