How rational are you, really? This comprehensive online quiz by ClearerThinking.org will not only provide you with the answer, it’ll also tell you which of 16 reasoning styles you belong to, where your strengths lie, and how to improve your thinking skills.
If you want to just skip ahead and do the quiz, click here.
Rational thinking is something we all take for granted. Most of us assume we’re rational at least most of the time and that our reasoning skills are fairly well developed. Fact is, we’re not as rational as we think we are. Rationality is thus a rarely sought-after skill — but one that impacts many areas of our lives.
“When you make decisions, whether about what career to pursue, who to date, or how to manage your savings, numerous cognitive biases can interfere with your choices,” explains Spencer Greenberg, a mathematician and team member at ClearerThinking, a not-for-profit that develops decision-making tools. “Even highly intelligent people frequently hold irrational and inconsistent beliefs, or engage in self-defeating behaviors. Having an unusually high IQ isn’t enough to protect you from bias.”
Greenberg points to the sunk cost fallacy as an example — a glitch in our thinking that makes us continue along our career paths or stick with projects simply because we’ve invested so much time in it already. In addition, we often misinterpret weak evidence as strong evidence, which can cause us to make an ill-advised stock trade or real estate investment.
Much to Greenberg’s surprise, there was previously no easy way for people to get feedback on their strengths and weaknesses in rational thinking, or to find suggestions about what they can do to improve. Keith E. Stanovich, a professor of Human Development and Applied Psychologist at the University of Toronto, is working on a rationality test, but it’s not very accessible.
“That’s why we developed the quiz,” Greenberg told io9. “We designed it to be the most comprehensive free test of rational thinking available to the public.”
To help people avoid bias and improve their decision-making skills, the ClearerThinking team immersed itself in findings from psychology, decision theory, economics, and math, with an eye towards how they impact rational thought.
“Our test is aimed at helping you understand your own thinking, as well as how you can improve in concrete ways to make better decisions and better achieve your goals,” says Greenberg. “It provides you with an overall rationality score, along with a comprehensive report about your thinking.”
Through a series of short questions, the quiz will evaluate your rational thinking and reasoning style, then churn out a custom report letting you know your rationality level and provide information about why you scored the way you did.
Above: A clip from a sample report. More here.
After finishing the quiz, you’ll be assigned to one of 16 “reasoning styles,” and your rationality score will be broken down into four sub-scales, each of which represents a valuable component involved in decision-making. These four sub-scales are:
- Future-Based Reasoning: Your ability to think consistently and make accurate predictions about the future
- Evidence Evaluation: Your ability to evaluate outside information and theories for accuracy
- Quantitative Reasoning: Your ability to manipulate and draw conclusions from quantitative information
- Cognitive Awareness: Your ability to analyze your own intuitions and to override them when they mislead you.
It’ll tell you the pros and cons of your reasoning style, how you compare to others, and point you to a selection of free resources to help you improve your weakest decision-making skills, so that you can better achieve your goals in the future.
Here is the link to the test.
It’s important to point out that the short length of the test precludes it from being considered a scientifically valid measurement tool. Still, we think you’ll find the quiz super interesting, insightful, and helpful.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org and @dvorsky. Top image by ClearerThinking