Overcoming Barriers to Analysis

Learning Objective

  • Recognize the barriers to analysis

Analysis is a complex-thinking skill, and all of us put up walls to avoid having to analyze certain situations, ideas, or information. While those barriers can sometimes provide comfort, they can also block us from deeper understanding and appreciation. Below are some common roadblocks to analysis and some strategies for overcoming them.

Barrier 1:  Analysis might challenge my worldview.

The purpose of analysis is to understand something better or more deeply, so as you analyze an idea or issue, your thinking may change and evolve. Deeper learning or understanding is valuable. It exposes falsehoods and moves us closer to truth. A good strategy for overcoming this barrier is to approach analysis with an open mind. Don’t approach analysis thinking I will prove this is right or I will prove this is false.  Begin analysis by thinking I want to understand this more deeply.

But Spot, You can't account for logic in your worldview
Barrier 2:  Analysis kills fun.

When studying something intently, people often see flaws or imperfections they hadn’t noticed before. Those imperfections can diminish an analyst’s enjoyment or appreciation of the object. Furthermore, once in the habit of analyzing, some people can’t turn off their analytic instincts. Because intense analysis is hard, it becomes exhausting to run around analyzing everything. Some people avoid analysis because they fear they don’t have the energy for it. To avoid analysis burnout, manage it in small chunks. Don’t try to analyze an artifact in one session. Tackle it in several short sessions with breaks in between. If you find yourself analyzing things beyond your assignment, congratulate yourself on your growing prowess, but remember that sometimes it’s best to turn off the skills before you exhaust them.

Buzz Killington Award
Barrier 3:  Analysis invents meaning.

Some people equate analysis with “speculation,” “guessing,” or “inferring meaning that isn’t there.” If analysis is done poorly, it can be inaccurate and damaging. The onus is on analysts to support their interpretations with plenty of evidence. Keep in mind that the purpose of analysis is not to present unequivocal truth. Good analysis offers a well-supported interpretation with the aim of convincing the reader that the interpretation is plausible rather than invincible. By supporting your analysis with a variety of solid evidence, you will avoid the criticism that your analysis is mere conjecture.

Tell us another made up story, we're all really interested (wonka)