Dialogical Thinking: A Tool by Jordan Peterson

What is Dialogical Thinking?

Dialogical thinking is an exercise to improve critical thinking where you become more than one person at the same time, separating your arguments from yourself and giving them to your avatars.

So, the next time it won’t be you coming up with a point, it’ll be one of your avatars (protagonist/interviewee). And a different avatar will counterargue (counter-voice/interviewer). Both of your avatars will go back and forth until one of your avatars can’t counter-argue anymore. The point that’s concluded then, will be solid.

The steps.

1. Make a claim.

This process starts with making a claim.

Protagonist: “Most people should avoid training their chest & shoulder muscles in the beginning. They should only train their back, arm, and leg muscles.”

2. Make its case.

Make a case for your claim with the first argument that comes to your mind.

Protagonist: “Most people spend too much time sitting, which leads to muscle imbalances, tight chest and shoulder muscles, weak back muscles, rounded shoulders, and increased risk of injury.”

3. Counterargue against it.

Now, your counter-voice will argue against your claim & argument. This step will take more effort and thinking than the previous steps.

Counter-voice: “Only working one’s back muscles, along with arms & legs, will make a complicated routine & make the workouts boring.”

4. Go back and forth.

Keep going back and forth until one of the avatars wins.

Protagonist: “The workout could be upper-lower, while one only works the back, arm, leg, and the neglected rotator cuff muscles until the posture & imbalances get fixed. It won’t get boring because the variety in exercises, not training different muscles, is what keeps things interesting.”

Counter-voice: “Since people spend more time sitting in the rounded shoulder position, training the chest and shoulder muscles again after the imbalances have been corrected may result in the imbalances returning.”

“Progress, which is much more noticeable in the chest and shoulder muscles, is another factor that increases interest.”

Protagonist: “One can always do more exercises for the back and the neglected rotator cuff muscles & learn to sit straight afterward. Injuries will be less likely since shoulders will be more stable due to the strong rotator cuff & upper back muscles, complimenting the shoulder and chest exercises.”

“Aesthetics are more important for young men only, and most people are more interested in being healthy & fit. In addition, one cannot properly train their chest and shoulders until they address their posture and muscular weakness.”

Counter-voice: “So, why not do more exercises for the back while still training the chest and shoulders?”

Protagonist: “For people more interested in aesthetics, it’ll depend on their posture. If it’s too bad, then only the back, arms, and legs, if not, the chest and shoulders can also be trained a little. And for older people, it can be just the back, arms, and legs initially.”

5. Conclude for now.

Now after going back and forth, one of your avatars may edit their original argument to come up with a better one, which your other avatar can’t criticize currently. That argument should be the conclusion for now. Which in this case is the protagonist’s last argument.

This concludes this critical thinking exercise for now.


Now your argument is solid & worth sharing. Inviting more people to criticize it. You can even pretend someone’s interviewing you to make this exercise more fun. Also, doing this exercise out loud initially is a great way to learn it. Learning to do it silently and without mouthing will take time.

Here’s your homework: use this tool to make a complicated decision or take an interview of yourself, making sure the interviewer is inquisitive and challenges your views.

More information is available here.

Also learn how to be more articulate with these 15 tactics.

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