Critical Thinking, Open Mindedness and EEG Coherence
in Maharishi International University Students

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A Thesis
Submitted to the faculty of
Maharishi International University

Frederick J. Shaddock

In Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the degree
Master of Arts in Education

May 1981

Approved:   Allan I. Abrams
                     Sanford I. Nidich



Shaddock, Frederick J.  M.A., Maharishi International University, May 1981.  The relationship between critical thinking, open-mindedness, and EEG coherence in MIU students.  Thesis advisors: Dr. Allan I. Abrams, and Sanford I. Nidich.

Educators have long sought to develop critical thinking ability and open-mindedness in their students, as well as to measure this development.  Physiological and psychological research studies on practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program have showed EEG brain wave coherence to be a measure of the development of orderliness in thinking and expanded awareness.

It was hypothesized that EEG phase coherence would provide a neurophysiological correlate of critical thinking ability and open-mindedness.  It was also hypothesized that the educational curriculum at Maharishi International University, which as the TM program  as its basis, would show seniors to be more developed in critical thinking and open-mindedness than seniors at other universities.  Other hypotheses were that critical thinking (as measured by the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal) would correlate positively with open-mindedness (measured using the Rokeach Adult Dogmatism Scale), class, and show no difference between the sexes in critical thinking and open-mindedness.

Results of the study showed that EEG phase coherence did not correlate significantly with critical thinking, open-mindedness, or with class. Critical thinking, as



predicted, did correlate significantly with class.  The MIU seniors scored significantly higher than established norms for college seniors in critical thinking ability, open-mindedness, and higher than MIU freshmen in critical thinking.  The MIU freshmen were slightly lower than average in critical thinking according to norms for liberal arts college freshmen.

Open-mindedness scores did not correlate with critical thinking ability, except for the Watson-Glaser subtests in ability to recognize invalid assumptions, and ability to draw valid inferences.  The 64 freshmen scored much higher in open-mindedness than predicted, about equal to the 40 seniors who took the Rokeach scale.  The Watson-Glaser subtests did correlate highly with each other and the total test score.

Some EEG phase coherence variables correlated positively with each other, such as left and right alpha, and frontal alpha and frontal theta.  Occipital alpha coherence correlated with frontal alpha and theta.  As predicted, there was no difference between males and females in open-mindedness and EEG coherence, but males performed better than females in critical thinking.

A Kaiser varimax rotation was performed on a correlational matrix of 14 variables.  A factor analysis identified four unique factors: 1) critical thinking and class, 2) frontal alpha and theta coherence, 3) left and right alpha, and 4) open-mindedness and ability to recognize invalid assumptions.  Thus, critical thinking, bilateral EEG measures, homolateral EEG measures, and open-mindedness were independent of each other.


The satisfactory and superior performances of MIU students in critical thinking seem especially significant in light of results from a pilot study, using a Human Potential Questionnaire, which indicate that MIU students have an extraordinarily optimistic, perhaps even fanciful, view of man's full potential.  Also, MIU students scored low in dogmatism despite their general concurrence with one basic world-view, the Science of Creative Intelligence.

Future research directions of both a theoretical and practical nature are discussed.  The limitations of this study include its non-random sampling from a specialized population of students, plus the fact that the research was done by a graduate student at MIU which raises the question of experimenter bias.  Future studies should be undertaken to overcome these drawbacks.


I would like to express my thanks to my thesis advisors Dr. Allan I. Abrams and Dr. Sanford I. Nidich, as well as Dr. Susan Levin Dillbeck, for their enlightened guidance and steady support.

My thanks and love go to Dr. Warren and Gloris Shaddock for their trust and patience in my taking a promising but uncommon direction in my education.

I appreciate the objective feedback on my research from the professors of Colgate University and the University of Rochester, who sought to develop critical thinking ability
and open-mindedness in all their students.

Most of all, I am grateful to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the tradition of Vedic Masters who have brought back to mankind a technique which may make this development possible
for all.


Chapter I: Introduction

Scientific, logical, and open-minded thinking has long been a major goal of the liberal arts educational tradition.  Alfred North Whitehead wrote "the art of clear thinking, of criticism of premises, of speculative assumption, of deductive reasoning--this great art was discovered, at least in embryo, by the Greeks, and was inherited by Europe" (Whitehead, 1929).

Critical yet open-minded thinking among the masses is important in a modern democratic society.  Professor John Dewey set forth very clearly the role of education in achieving this in Democracy and Education (1916).

Some attitudes may be named which are central in effective intellectual ways of dealing with subject matter.  Among the most important are directedness, open-mindedness, single-mindedness (or whole-heartedness) and responsibility... Openness of mind means accessibility of mind to any and every consideration that will throw light upon the situation that needs to be cleared up... The worst thing about stubbornness of mind, about prejudices, is that they arrest development; they shut the mind off from new stimuli.  Open-mindedness means the retention of the childlike attitude; closed-mindedness means premature intellectual old age. (p.174)

Dewey further states in How We Think (1944):

While it is not the business of education to prove every statement made, any more than to teach every possible item of information, it is its business to cultivate deep-seated and effective habits of discriminating tested beliefs from mere assertions, guesses and opinions; to develop a lively, sincere and open-minded preference for conclusions that are properly grounded, and to ingrain into the individual's working habits methods of inquiry and reasoning appropriate to the various problems that present themselves... The formation of these habits is Training of the Mind. (p.27)

Educators have recently called for a resurgence in the development of these abilities.  A thirty-two member commission of scholars, including presents from Yale, Smith, Chicago, and

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