A Definition of Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a way of considering information in order to form an opinion which is based in logic, humility, and research.

Critical thinking lets us decide how we feel about things. It is a practiced set of skills that helps us consider things thoroughly before drawing conclusions about them, and saves us from the assumptions, inferences, and irrational conclusions of anyone who isn’t considering all sides of an argument. Just as we would when forming an argument, we start with our opinion then look into why we think what we do, what others think, why others might think the way they do, and what other questions could possibly be asked about the topic. Then we go about trying to answering those questions (Weston, 2009).

QuestionsCritical thinking takes humility. We have to be willing to honestly consider the possibility that others have valid points, and ultimately be willing to admit that our initial opinion was wrong and adjust accordingly. And, what’s more, we have to be able to either trust that our sources are able to do the same or know how to sift through what in their argument is opinion and what is fact (Browne & Keeley, 2007).

We must either know, or be able to figure out, where to get information. We have to be able to sort through sources, deciding what is reliable and generalizable and what is not (Dowden, 2002; Paul & Elder, 2001; Weston, 2009). We have to understand what our sources are talking about and whether the context fits what we are researching. For example, when John Locke (1689) talks about human understanding, it helps us put his words into context when we know the zeitgeist. Another example is our need to take into consideration the effect that Richard Paul (2001) selling a product has on his discussion of the importance and nature of critical thinking. And when Dr. Dowden (2002) discusses skills needed for critical thinking, is he only targeting those seeking to go to college. Does that change the meaning of the argument for rest of us?

EternalA definition of critical thinking is only the first step in determining whether it is important to us, how to use it, and when to use it; as discussed above, progress requires questions. When researching critical thinking, is it important to know what the end goal is? In other words, does it matter why you want to be able to think critically? Does the definition of critical thinking change when considering media messages as opposed to considering what to eat for lunch? Is there a time when critical thinking becomes unnecessary or overly complicated? Is there a basic formula for critical thinking that can be followed? Does the way in which someone goes about applying critical thinking change the results of their analysis? These questions and more may lead us to making more well-rounded conclusions about critical thinking.


Browne, M. N., & Keeley, S. M. (2007). Asking the right questions: a guide to critical thinking (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Dowden. (2002). A summary of critical thinking skills. Retrieved from: http://www.csus.edu/indiv/d/dowdenb/4/ct-def/ct-skills.htm

Locke, J. (1689). An essay concerning human understanding. In L. Pojman (Ed.), Classics of philosophy (pp 653-689). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Paul, R. & Elder, L. (2001). Modified from the book by Paul, R. & Elder, L. (2001). Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning and Your Life.

Weston, A. (2009). A rulebook for arguments. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub.

*Cartoons can be found at http://faculty.spokanefalls.edu/InetShare/AutoWebs/jimp/Cartoons/arethere.gif and
http://faculty.spokanefalls.edu/InetShare/AutoWebs/jimp/Cartoons/questions.gif respectively*

Define ‘Scholarly’

Chris Nitz Photo: Crushed by Knowledge If we objectively define ‘scholarly’ as “concerned with academic learning and research” (Dictionary.com,  2012), we find ourselves with a vague definition. We may be tempted to immediately think of left-brained academics. However, discrepancies in what must be considered academic may change that definition. If, for example, we define academics as pertaining to sciences or literacy, we end with a very different result than if we define academics as pertaining to any subject which facilitates the further development of a particular skill. Sir Ken Robinson (2006) notes that a major short coming of academics now is that we define academics much like the former, but would be served better to treat it as the latter.

Chris Nitz: A Keyboard Kind of LifeHowever, in writing, the target audience is the one that matters. As such, if you are writing to a group of social scientists, the expectation is that the prescribed protocol will be followed (Polkinghorne, 2007), and so on. In this way then, scholarly writing should be defined more along the lines of writing which facilitates the communication of critical thinking and rhetoric within a given field, using the prescribed masteries of that field. This allows for all subjects regardless of the paradigm currently subscribed to in academia.


Dictionary.com (2012). ‘Scholarly’. Retrieved from: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/scholarly?s=t

Polkinghorne, D. E. (2007). Qualitative inquiry: validity issues in narrative writing. Qualitative Inquiry13(4), 472.

Robinson, K. (2006, February). Ken robinson says schools kill creativity.. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

Sherpani: Part of Your World

The Little Mermaid (the original Hans Christian Anderson version) is an example of Campbell’s ‘monomyth’ (Vogler, 2007). As archetypes go, it is a story of the Lover as well as the Explorer (Mark & Pearson, 2001). This story speaks to both of these archetypes through the goals of the Little Mermaid; the love of the prince and an eternal soul (and in some analyses of the story, experiencing the unknown). A brand that resonates well with both of these concepts is Sherpani. Sherpani’s brand embraces the concept of “Breathe, Give, Stretch, Go.” The idea behind Sherpani is that women are unique, active, and should be able to have bags that embrace femininity and the outdoors. In their concept, breathe stands for “breathe fresh air”, give means “give your love”, stretch represents “stretch your mind and body”, and go reminds us to “never stop moving”. The Little Mermaid embodies all of these notions.

As such, one might harness the existing story in the form of a text-based novel for the main story anchor medium (Rutledge, 2013). The Little Mermaid could have an online journal (blog) which serves as a diary for collecting her thoughts, contemplations, events/experiences, and perceptions of what is happening. She could also post photos of the prince and links to dances she learns for him. And the Little Mermaid’s blog could allow for comments which could encourage readers to share stories of love, advice on how to interact with surface dwellers, princes, and/or general feedback on posts. This resonates with each of Sherpani’s core words.

The Prince may have an interactive online nautical map, complete with notes on trips, information about ships (e.g., costs, crew lists, photos, checklists for expedition preparations, etc.), information about the sea (from a surface perspective), and may solicit ideas about future trips from readers, as well as their photos, maps, and suggestions for gear. This, while not feminine per say, embraces the core concept of ‘stretch’.

An interactive game could allow readers to attempt to make it through the trial period of a Daughter of the Air to their rise to the eternal kingdom by allowing them to visit houses and collect smiles while avoiding tears. The game could be made as a downloadable mobile app or as an indie game on XBox or PS networks. The game could allow readers to accept the fate of the Little Mermaid as immortal, even after her loss, which assures the safety of the reader (Nell, 2002) regarding the immortality of his/her soul. This embraces, quite literally, Sherpani’s concept of ‘breathe’.

The Little Mermaid could also have an Instagram account on which she takes pictures of the adventures she has with the prince (i.e., exploring the kingdom). She could also have a Twitter account on which she posts observations about the trips, is able to post the Instagram photos, can mention the prince, and allow them to communicate (as she has no tongue). This resonates with Sherpani’s core concept of ‘go’.

The Little Mermaid’s five sisters could have a Vine account which would allow them to discuss hair care, the hottest products, and the latest trends in merfolk fashion as well as connect with surface dwellers (aka readers) and exchange fashion savvy. The fashion account allows the sisters’ sacrifice to be more meaningful, while allowing for immersion which carries on throughout the readers day as decisions about clothing and accessories are made. To this end, the sisters could even create a Postmark account and sell accessories by artists who have partnered up with Sherpani, as a means of supporting a social campaign like The Cove. This also embraces the core concept of ‘give’ in a variety of ways (i.e., giving love but also loving individual uniqueness and styles).

The Little Mermaid, as a fairytale allows readers to experience a roller-coaster of emotions, as she moves through her hero’s journey. Allowing readers to be involved in that journey by harnessing the innate archetypes contained therein, propels this timeless classic into its next evolution, and allows Sherpani the embrace archetypes and the telling of universal truths, an ability exhibited by icons (Mark & Pearson, 2001).


Mark, M., & Pearson, C. (2001). The hero and the outlaw building extraordinary brands through the power of archetypes. New York: McGraw-Hill. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=63620

Nell, V. (2002). Mythic Structures in Narrative. In M. C. Green, J. J. Strange & T. C. Brock (Eds.), Narrative Impact: Social and Cognitive Foundations (pp. 17-37). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum

Rutledge, P. (2013). Case study example: The three little pigs. Retrieved from: http://athinklab.com/transmedia-storytelling/case-study-example-the-three-little-pigs/

Vogler, Christopher. (2007). The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers (Third ed.). Chelsea, MI: Sheridan Books. p. 3-27.

Nice! A Case Study of Transmedia—How “Fringe” Used Spreadable Media by Jason Ohler | Tracking Transmedia

See on Scoop.itComponents of Media Psychology

“When I speak about the Mega Makeovers That Will Change Everything Educational, one of those makeovers is certainly the transmedia phenomenon.
See on www.scoop.it

League of Psychology Episode 5: Anxiety

I really love this vlog. Check it out! I’m suddenly feeling the urge to play some League…


Being in love with technology (aka ‘technophilia) is not as shocking as it may seem. A passion for inatimate things, living things, things that make our lives easier, and things that facilitate secret (or not so secret) desires has long since been a common thing; unspoken though it may be (Kelly, 2010).

Harlow (1958) introduces the concept of love after measuring a monkey’s preference of articial mothers. If, in 1958, a monkey can show an affinity for an inatimate object, why is it then so hard to admit or imagine that we are able to have real emotions for technology? Mary Chayko (2008) relays the emotional connectedness that we find using virtual technologies; relationships are formed and brought to fruition virtually every day. People, frustrated with their real life situations, find solace in virtual communities and online games which provide alternate realities for them to escape to (Zhou, Jin, Vogel, Fang, & Chen, 2011).

How can technology facilitate these accomplisments, and escape our attention and our devotion? An appreciation for the thing allowing us to reach our goals is inevitable. The more we embrace technophilia, the more prevalent it will become (Kelly, 2010).


Chayko, M. (2008). Portable communities : the social dynamics of online and mobile connectedness. Albany: SUNY.

Harlow, H. (1958). The nature of love. The American Psychologist13, 673-685.

Kelly, K. (2010). Technophilia. In J. Dibbell (Ed.). The best technology writing 2010. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Zhou, Z., Jin, X.-L., Vogel, D. R., Fang, Y., & Chen, X. (2011). Individual motivations and demographic differences in social virtual world uses: An exploratory investigation in Second Life. International Journal of Information Management, 31(3), 261–271. doi:10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2010.07.007

Social Influence in Gaming, Social Media, and Social Marketing

Joinson, Mckenna, Postmes, and Reips (2009) discuss three main types of social influence: compliance, norm-based influence, and interpersonal influence. Compliance takes place when an individual molds their actions around what is expected of them in a social situation; they act on other peoples’ expectations. Norm-based influence is when an individual makes a change to their behavior in order to fit in with their in-group, and do so of their own volition. Interpersonal influence takes place when and individual sees themselves as distict, and obtains information or perspective from other individuals which they see as useful, influential, or relevant; we may be persuaded by others whom we see as being applicable to our needs or personal validity.

Evidence of these social influences are readily found in online gaming communities. Barnett and Coulson (2010) discuss the formation of organized groups of players (aka guilds) in massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) and what motivates players to join them. They note that due to the varying roles that must be played in order to accomplish goals within these guilds, players must trade information while still fulfilling their individual purposes. In this way, players exibit interpersonal influence on one another. Other research notes that players are influenced socially in game play, but do not clearly define whether the influence is compliant or norm-based (Cole & Griffiths, 2007).

An example of compliant social influence was uncovered when studying Facebook group use (Park, Kee, & Venezuela, 2009). Students report using Facebook groups because they felt compelled by fellow students and identified doing so as an in-group normative behavior.

Finally, norm-based influence can be found in social martketing (McKenzie-Mohr, 2000). When social marketers present desired behaviors as social normatives, individuals may alter their behaviors of their own choosing to match the desired behavior presented in the campaign. In this way, the individual avoids cognitive dissonance and is able to percieve themselves as complying with the more desirable behavior; that of the in-group as presented by the campaign.

When we understand how social influence affects behaviors and changes, as well as personal identities, we can not only understand changes in individuals but we are better equipped to use these influences to overcome marginalization, develop various skills, and teach others to follow suit.


Barnett, J., & Coulson, M. (2010). Virtually real: A psychological perspective on massively multiplayer online games. Review of General Psychology, 14(2), 167–179. doi:10.1037/a0019442
Cole, H., & Griffiths, M. D. (2007). Social Interactions in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Gamers. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(4), 575–583. doi:10.1089/cpb.2007.9988
Joinson, A. N. (2009). The Oxford handbook of Internet psychology. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.
McKenzie-Mohr, D. (2000). Fostering sustainable behavior through community-based social marketing. American Psychologist, 55(5), 531–537. doi:10.1037//0003-066X.55.5.531
Park, N., Kee, K. F., & Valenzuela, S. (2009). Being immersed in social networking environment: Facebook groups, uses and gratifications, and social outcomes. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12(6), 729–733. doi:10.1089/cpb.2009.0003

The Value of Words

Words have the merit to change behavior. Conditioned responses are the result of a repeated pairing of unconditioned stimulai and conditioned stimulai. Just as Pavlov’s dogs were conditioned to salivate at the sound of a bell, people are conditioned to react to different words in a variety of ways. Words such as ‘war’ and ‘love’ invoke different emotions in every person who hear/see them, but these reactions vary based on the recipient’s past experiences or conditioning (Anderson, 2000).

Words have the merit to change perception of self. They are instrumental in the verification of one’s identity. Feedback allows individuals to determine whether their identity standard matches the identity they exhibit to others. Words allow those who are marginalized to try on identities via online connectivity without having to come face to face with others (Burke & Stets, 2009). When we do come face to face, words allow relationships to be conveyed and maintained (Pinker, 2005).

Therefore, the merit of words is directly related to the effect they have on the recipient of those words.


Anderson, J. R. (2000). Learning and memory : an integrated approach. New York: Wiley.

Burke, P., & Stets, J. E. (2009). Identity theory. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Pinker, S. (2005) The Stuff of Thought. TED Talk. Retrieved from http://blog.ted.com/2007/09/11/steven_pinker/

Essential Melodiness

So, here is what I love about studying identities: we are all made up of a variety of identities. We get to choose which ones we show, which ones we prioritize, how we define then, how we refine them, and how we use them to interact. When you ask someone (or even better, a group  of someones) to tell you who they are, their answers will vary vastly. Give them the task of choosing how to tell you, and the vastness of the variations expands. The colors, graphics, sounds, pictures, videos, words, textures, etc. that we use to produce something representative of our core all roll into that description as well. For more information on identities, check out the great book below. Meanwhile, here is my Glog introducing who I am. Enjoy!

Read More!

Burke, P., & Stets, J. E. (2009). Identity theory. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Target Audiences in a Virtual World

Smith and Wollan (2011) discuss barriers to using online social media for customer feedback. The need for instantaneous response to feedback is a grave one. Work of mouth is the most effective form of advertising. As such, it also has a large effect on negative feedback. This is called aggressive consumer activism (Smith & Wollan, 2011). By immediately addressing concerns and comments, companies can effectively minimize the damage done by this negative feedback. Of course, it isn’t possible to deal with every single piece of information/feedback/criticism given by customers. This is challenge number two. Companies must have a fluid and well constructed way to deal with customer input. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/--N6cn5nBwkE/T8rH8nUm9FI/AAAAAAAAAVc/u-sU9YbkBWk/s1600/targetaudience2.jpgThis is a challenge in and of itself. There are a variety of media at the customers’ disposal for feedback. It all has to be monitored, data input and checked against the company’s goals and measurement standards. And, even if they did have a program for dealing with customer data, no one can please everyone all the time. What one customer likes the other may not; even within the same target audience. For that matter, there may be a significant difference between what the customer who expresses himself thinks/wants/feels, and the customer who doesn’t express himself, but whose opinion matters all the same.

Smith and Wollan (2011) also offer suggestions as to the way around some of these barriers. By partnering with influential users of social media, companies can target audiences within a certain area of their market. Organizations can allow existing networks to work for them. Influential social media users have the ability to harness their credibility with followers and friends in a persuasive manner. By obtaining the support of these influential few, companies are able to zero in on their target audience, monitor feedback in a more concentrated way (e.g., monitor the youtube comments of their video blogger who is followed by zillions), and immediately respond to that feedback.

It is my opinion that we all have trusted sites, bloggers, and critics who we find closely represent our personal opinions. By accessing those key people, marketers can reach a larger group of customers. I know that I personally read very specific websites for game reviews. If they don’t like the game, I won’t buy them.

Tell me this isn’t bad ass…. Also… it clicks SO PRETTY!

When I worked for one of these review sites, marketers gave free copies of games to me, asking me to write a review. By giving me a free copy, they were getting their foot in the door, and I was more likely to enjoy the game, as I had a good taste in my mouth about the company gifting it to me. My favorite example of that was when I was given a keyboard to review. My review was so positive and reached so many people, that the company gave me the $130.00 keyboard as a gift. I STILL rave about it. A good example of reaching one to affect the masses (also, I LOVE THIS KEYBOARD!)