One day, the president of the American Psychological Association (Bob Sternberg), the president-elect of the APA (Diane Halpern), and the president of the American Psychological Society (now the Association for Psychological Science) (Roddy Roediger) got together to discuss ways in which these two large national associations, both concerned with psychology, might collaborate in a joint venture. Partly we wanted to show the ability of our sometimes rival organizations to collaborate, but partly, the three of us, friends of long standing, wanted to work together on a project. Eventually, we found ourselves talking about a topic that was of great interest to all three of us, and that also was, we thought, important for the field – the nature and development of critical thinking in psychology.
Our concern was that, although psychology curricula were pretty consistently strong in teaching students the main facts, theories, and research done in psychology, these curricula were more variable in the extent to which they fostered critical thinking in the discipline. Part of the reason for this variability, we thought, was that although some texts mentioned or even had exercises in critical thinking, the development of critical thinking in psychology was always secondary to their main purpose. Usually, the purpose of the books was primarily to convey subject matter, and only secondarily, at best, to promote critical thinking about this subject matter.