Motivation and emotion/Book/2022/Actively open-minded thinking

Actively open-minded thinking:
How can AOT be used to improve human performance?


Take a moment and think about the last time you either got into a heated argument. Chances are that you thought you were right and you opposer was wrong. How come your opposer made the situation heated in the first place? The logical answer for this is because everyone has their own perspectives and beliefs. The issue is, [grammar?] human nature is built to be selfish creatures. And this can put serious restrictions on yourself, in personal and professional ways. Your personal, being your friends, family, and relationships. And your professional, being your career, promotions, and even your salary.

Figure 1. Brain working together like connecting wheels to be able to think.

The ideas behind actively open-minded thinking (AOT) can allow anyone to experience from different lenses and learn from a different perspective. Studies have found that those with a strong disposition to think reflectively, and use all their cognitive skills to think things through, tend to display good reasoning, as opposed to those who have a lower strive for thinking, therefore displaying poorer reasoning (Satnovich, 2009).

AOT is a new reasoning approach that encourages people to be fair to other schools of thought or conclusions even if they are against their own and previously thought perspectives (Shati, 2022). AOT advises people to consider any new evidence against their previously favoured thoughts and concepts. The AOT approach is dependent on certain factors which are at the core of its practice: time and consideration (Baro et al., 2022). People are required [by?] to spend adequate time before making decisions and in that period of thinking they set aside their perspectives and consider the new available evidence on every issue. According to Baron (2019), AOT encourages people not to be over-reliant on previously known concepts and instead have an absolute ability to put aside prior knowledge in their thinking processes. Often, people can be susceptible to the belief bias. The belief bias refers to the ability of people to over-rely on prior thoughts and assumptions and not any form of logical thinking (Stanovich & Toplak, 2019). AOT allows people to reduce their vulnerability to the belief bias and instead embrace the idea of being more informed by considering more evidence elsewhere (Erceg et al., 2022). The big question then is: How can AOT be used to improve human performance?

Focus questions
  • What is AOT?
  • How does AOT impact an individuals[grammar?] belief bias?
  • Why should people consider evidence that goes against their beliefs?
  • In what six ways does AOT improve human performance?
  • How does AOT justify prior knowledge?

The issue with biased thinkingEdit

Figure 2. Donald Trump

Let's take a look at some of the most modern, yet controversial figures in today's society. Take Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States of America (USA). He had a large fan base, following and an even larger search history, with many people searching him up on the internet[grammar?]. His personality moved so many of his followers not just around the [which?] country, but around the world, yet he was only president for four years and not being able to be re-elected for president in 2020[awkward expression?]. What stopped Trump was his biased thinking on his views for the country and his political goals[factual?]. It was clear that his campaigns put in place and the investments he made in those were stable, but his decision to ignore the situations that most Americans sided with led him to not being re-elected as president in 2020.

Breaking the segregation boundariesEdit

According to Kronauer (2019), the potential of haves and have-nots is properly elaborated where a poor and disadvantaged person has no chance of changing the culture that exists in the society. Judging from history, people have lived in difficult times that have divided society into classes depending on different factors. Take the example of the Second World War. Influential people like the Nazi leaders had absolute power and decided what was fed to the common people. The result was the creation of the elites and the commoners. In short, people who are short of power have no chance of controlling what they want. The elite people and governments had the control of deciding what the people consumed in the media.[Explain what this has to do AOT]

When a person visits a store, they know their exact match by default. Everyone has their place and are expected to stick to their classes. In acquiring consumer products, there is literally everything for everyone. What brings in a difference is the amount, the type of goods needed, the amount of goods wanted and the different types of people buying. The target has been achieved. When one goes out looking for the products, there are some norms to follow. A vegetarian has been made never to visit a butcher. Others products in the supermarket for example are for those who can take gluten-free foods only. These are not the only demarcations, there are many more, yet people have never realised these distinctions. The origin of these distinctions has never been questioned. It has become a culture that people follow.[Explain what this has to do AOT]

However, AOT gives people the chance to understand the etiology of the distinctions and instead of eliminating them and causing chaos, the option is to eliminate the reasons for which they exist (Mandel et al., 2019)[grammar?]. For instance, the unity and bond that exists amongst the people with power keeps growing[factual?]. Divergent views would then make people maintain that hierarchy of power but initiate an infrastructure where every person in the society has the chance to be in power through meritocracy[factual?].

Breaking the segregation boundaries requires people to move away from prior beliefs and instead embrace AOT. AOT helps to improve human performance by changing the paradigm of classes[factual?]. Even though the classes will continue to exist, the associations therein change the status quo. In the hope of change, people embrace new evidence in their thinking process and instead appreciate the need to grow holistically in their classes. Through AOT there is the chance of living in harmony by accepting new ideas from others and embracing them which in effect influences people’s thinking capacity and decision-making processes (Yerushalmi, 2022). Through AOT, people realise that there is a very minimal difference in their classes and the intention should not always be hate and separation but rather appreciating the different schools of thought. Human beings have found a way to place themselves in some sort of groups that define them and learn to take ideas from each other harmoniously. The genesis of this phenomenon is what they do not know and AOT gives new evidence that highlights the need to break the segregation boundaries albeit in a different way.

Active open-minded thinkingEdit

Figure 3. Image of the brain showing in words what it is capable of

Actively open-minded thinking allows you to take a step back, and reflect on the bigger picture in almost any given situation presented to you. When we look at the best negotiators, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and politicians, we can see that they are all able to mirror their words with everyone around them specifically, which lets them solve problems, and create outcomes that don't "split" any of the differences. Christopher voss, who wrote Never Split the Difference in 2016 said it best; "splitting the difference is like figuring out which shoes to put on. If you like one pair, and your partner likes the other, how odd will it be if you wore one shoe on one foot, and the other on the opposite?" (Voss & Raz, n.d.). When practicing and allowing AOT to be second nature, it allows the mind to create more decisions and possibilities, breed more innovation to the self, and increase the level of communication and collaboration[factual?][for example?].

Multiple decisions and new possibilitiesEdit

In every decision-making process, there is some truth in the fact that people face different circumstances and thus their views are never the same. The ability to make multiple decisions is beneficial for the mere fact that people then become unpredictable (Ottati & Wilson, 2018).  There are times people share their views on issues that are always different from our own and thus the information can never be the same. Therefore, having the chance to conquer the new and different views offers people a chance of making multiple and different decisions. Is making multiple decisions an improvement of human performance? Take the example of technology. The sort of equipment and technology in the 20th century is no match with what we have today. In the same way, the technology that will be there in the centuries to come will be more advanced than what we have today. Nevertheless, the effects and depiction concerning the technology are what matters and they can never be the same. The possibilities of these technologies are a reality not because of the belief bias but because of AOT where there is the ability to embrace multiple decision-making processes informed by new evidence as it continues to evolve (Emlen Metz et al., 2020). From that perspective, the time differences and differences in perspectives actually bring in very many alterations that influence human performance in the sense that they are able to incorporate other divergent opinions to come up with multiple endings of issues for which science and technology is a great example.

Breeding innovationEdit

The traditional way of doing things has affected humanity. All spheres of life in the world today have norms. People have been made to follow these norms. It has become their culture. Culture has stamped itself on everything. AOT allows us to tell the difference between mindful and mindless individuals. Mindless people are those who have tied themselves to doing things in common ways. They are prisoners of the belief bias and their decision-making process is utterly predictable. Their culture has influenced them to an extent that they will always follow their prior knowledge. They do not think differently and thus are not open to creativity and innovation. Their performance is basic and relatable to the already acquired knowledge and thus they miss out on any benefits that new evidence would bring.[factual?]

On the other hand, mindful people are great thinkers. They are open to new ideas, responses and are very innovative. These are the kinds of people that culture cannot stamp on. Culture has stamped on every sector of our lives. How well does culture achieve this? Every person is born a genius of their own kind. What culture does is that it suppresses this artistic genius in us. Doing things that are familiar with the society is what pleases us. It please others around us too. New styles and ways of doing things are heckled at. This is undeserving. Most people feel uncomfortable in venturing new avenues in life[factual?]. Familiarity is what culture has instilled in people’s minds, actions, and ways of life. Despite all these self-familiarity biases, AOT improves human performance by allowing people to stray from societal culture of everything (Bar-Tal et al., 2021). The bigger question that AOT present to people is: Have we ever thought of anything different from this? In answering such questions, people get to consider other views including new evidence and that aspect of consideration breeds creativity and innovation (Marshall et al., 2021).[for example?]


[Provide more detail]

Increasing self-efficacy and confidenceEdit

The self-efficacy theory refers to the ability of people to achieve results courtesy of the belief in their capacity (Bandura & Hall, 2018). It is imperative to note that self-efficacy is an outcome of the way an individual thinks, their determination, and motivation as well. People who lack self-efficacy find it difficult to have confidence in their capabilities and successful completion of any assigned tasks. Regarding self-efficacy, two scenarios arise. Firstly, there is one where an individual has the confidence to achieve set targets even though their skills and capability do not match the specified domain. For this case, AOT is entirely applicable. Secondly, there is one where the individual’s self-efficacy is an outcome of their confidence and capability to achieve the set targets courtesy of their knowledge, mind-set, and skill-set[factual?].  In the same line of thinking, in situations where there is no congruence between the individual’s skill-set and the specified domain, external help is necessary so that there can be a winning combination. In that case, the winning combination would entail leveraging on the individual’s self-confidence and imparting relevant knowledge that would allow them to have the required skills to perform and achieve the desired results in the specified domain. The action of imparting knowledge from elsewhere is the concept of AOT. Its inclusion improves an individual’s self-efficacy by providing other possibilities. In some way, the AOT presents an opportunity to counter-evidence against the prior knowledge to confirm the absence of error and the need for modifying possibilities (Kossowska et al., 2022). In doing so, human performance improves due to the enhanced confidence and self-efficacy.

Experimental studyEdit

AOT was measured originally with a 41 item scale (AOT41). Recently it has been dropped to a 17 item scale for convenience (AOT17). The idea was to test and see if participants were falling into the thinking of confirmation bias, which is generating arguments and conclusions to one's own perspective and opinion (Mercier & Sperber, 2011). So far, the research done on shortening the measurement scale has yet to be consistently proven to be as effective as the original 41 item scale[factual?]. One study from Svedholm-Hakkinen and Lindeman (2017) conducted [awkward expression?] 2735 Finnish volunteers to complete the AOT41 scale. 65% of participants were female, and the mean age was 28 years old. Afterwards, they were conducted to complete the AOT17, with slight rewording, and then compared each of the measurements together.

The results from the comparable study showed that shortening the AOT41 scale was very possible. Compromising any data or criterion validity didn't seem to be an issue when shortening the scale, however reliability did surface as a further investigation. The results in general did find that AOT consists of a few distinct dimensions, including social competence and supernatural beliefs[Provide more detail]. Each dimension shows a score of how an individual thinks, which then leads to reasoning of how open-minded one is.

Promoting liberalismEdit

Without AOT, there is no liberalism in this world (Stenhouse et al., 2018). People fear challenging the system. To challenge the system, there is a need to shun prior knowledge and embrace new evidence. Social inclination controls people’s ways of life. It is so rare to find an individual who has subscribed to defining success as they view it themselves[factual?]. Rather success is decided by the views of other people[grammar?]. People are shaped by the society and not the individual. This [what?] is the concept of AOT. There is no proper boundary between individualism and the society. This should be the case[factual?]. In many situations, what people refer to as ‘individual’ is controlled and shaped up by the society. The social nature and relationship has been cultivated in such a manner that it cannot be separated from the individual.

It takes an entire society for real liberalism to take effect. AOT allows people to interact with divergent concepts that in the end benefit humanity in different perspectives (Svedholm-Häkkinen & Lindeman, 2018). Take an example of an author publishing a report by themselves in accordance to their own rules and regulations. No second or third party involved in ascertaining the accuracy, correctness or worth of the content and format. By leaving the author to freely present their art and mind, there are higher chances of originality. In the context of books, AOT application would imply that people have the chance to read the book and increase their knowledge depending on the author’s rhetoric. If this is possible, there shall be a huge impact socially. Then at that moment, there is freedom. This is because of the individual’s ideas will have affected the perception of the society. All the metrics that others use over others are what should be eliminated through embracing AOT.

Test yourself!

1 AOT has proven to make learning more efficient


2 AOT can prevent judgemental thinking:


3 It is proven that AOT can be shortened to a smaller scale, and still be as effective as the original:



The [which?] studies presented have proven that people that use active open-minded thinking can assist with understanding the tendancy[spelling?] to follow instruction, disregard opinion-based options, and expand the learning and cognition areas of the brain. It improves human performance by leading people away from predictablly[spelling?] set rules and norms, and breeding innovation and creativity to first take control over their own future, and capitalise more control over the ones around them, and their followers. AOT is still a new study to this day, and much more [vague] research must be done to further improve the studies, and identify more distinct dimensions as to how it can both be measured, and produce more simple and direct feedback to improve human performance. Lacking an open mind in general has also been shown to be somewhat detrimental to one's life. It can be as effective in a minor way to limit personal career options, or in major ways lose control over large leadership positions, presidency included.

See alsoEdit


Bandura, A., & Hall, P. (2018). Albert bandura and social learning theory. Learning theories for early years practice, 63.

Baron, J. (2019). Actively open-minded thinking in politics. Cognition, 188, 8-18.

Baron, J., Isler, O., & Yilmaz, O. (2022). Actively open-minded thinking and the political effects of its absence.

Bar‐Tal, D., Vered, S., & Fuxman, S. (2021). Between Open‐minded Critical Thinking and Closed‐minded Allegiance: Educational Tensions in Societies Involved in Intractable Conflict. Political Psychology, 42, 3-28.

Cohen, A. S., Lutzke, L., Otten, C. D., & Árvai, J. (2022). I Think, Therefore I Act: The Influence of Critical Reasoning Ability on Trust and Behavior During the COVID‐19 Pandemic. Risk Analysis, 42(5), 1073-1085.

Edsall, T. B. (2020). The whole of liberal democracy is in grave danger at this moment. New York Times.

Emlen Metz, S., Baelen, R. N., & Yu, A. (2020). Actively open‐minded thinking in American adolescents. Review of Education, 8(3), 768-799.

Erceg, N., Galić, Z., & Bubić, A. (2022). Normative responding on cognitive bias tasks: Some evidence for a weak rationality factor that is mostly explained by numeracy and actively open-minded thinking. Intelligence, 90, 101619.

Kossowska, M., Szwed, P., & Czarnek, G. (2022). The Role of Political Ideology and Open-Minded Thinking Style in the (in) Accuracy of Factual Beliefs. Political Behavior, 1-21.

Kronauer, M. (2019). ‘Social exclusion’and underclasses-new concepts for the analysis of poverty. In Empirical poverty research in a comparative perspective (pp. 51-76). Routledge.

Mandel, D. R., Collins, R. N., Walker, A. C., Fugelsang, J. A., & Risko, E. F. (2022). What Drives the Bias Blind Spot—cognitive Sophistication, Introspection Bias, or Conversational Processes?

Marshall, T., Keville, S., Cain, A., & Adler, J. R. (2021). On being open-minded, wholehearted, and responsible: a review and synthesis exploring factors enabling practitioner development in reflective practice. Reflective Practice, 22(6), 860-876.

Mercier, H., & Sperber, D. (2011). Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory. Behavioral And Brain Sciences, 34(2), 57-74.

Ottati, V., & Wilson, C. (2018). Open-minded cognition and political thought. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics.

Shati, A. A. A. G. (2022). Effective Open-Minded Thinking among College Engineering Students. Journal of Positive School Psychology, 9321-9344.

Stanovich, K. E., & Toplak, M. E. (2019). The need for intellectual diversity in psychological science: Our own studies of actively open-minded thinking as a case study. Cognition, 187, 156-166.

Stenhouse, N., Myers, T. A., Vraga, E. K., Kotcher, J. E., Beall, L., & Maibach, E. W. (2018). The potential role of actively open-minded thinking in preventing motivated reasoning about controversial science. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 57, 17-24.

Svedholm-Häkkinen, A. M., & Lindeman, M. (2018). Actively open-minded thinking: development of a shortened scale and disentangling attitudes towards knowledge and people. Thinking & Reasoning, 24(1), 21-40.

Voss, C., & Raz, T. Never split the difference.

Wang, C., Wu, S. Y., Nie, Y. Z., Cui, G. Y., & Hou, X. Y. (2022). Open-mindedness trait affects the development of intercultural communication competence in short-term overseas study programs: a mixed-method exploration. BMC Medical Education, 22(1), 1-9.

Yerushalmi, H. (2022). Therapists’ self-scrutiny during periods of polarisation. Psychodynamic Practice, 28(3), 237-242.

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