Can your personality be formed from different types of thinking? If so, how can you take full advantage?
The thinking process involves various cognitive activities you use to process information. This could be to solve problems, make decisions, and create new ideas. We always try to use our thinking skills to make sense of experiences, organise information and then make plans. However, there are different types of thinking, and indeed different types of thinkers. Which one are you?
Different types of thinking
There are several different types of thinking. These are generally outlined as two categories:
This is when things come together, or converge, to create perspectives on a topic together in a logical manner. This is often to find a single answer and the process involves focusing on a finite number of solutions.
If you’ve been faced with multiple choice questions in a quiz, chances are you have experienced convergent thinking. It is considered to be an important cognitive tool and has a real part to play in different types of thinking. It is unlikely we’d be able to carry out maths or gain scientific knowledge without some form of convergent thinking.
By contrast, divergent thinking looks to explore as many solutions as possible in an effort to find one that works. This refers to the ability to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions in an effort to find one that works. It starts from a common point and moves outward in diverging directions to involve a variety of aspects or perspectives.
Further types of thinking
Some psychologists have come up with other types of thinking that occur as part of either convergent or divergent thinking. Some of these examples include:
Analytical thinking involves thinking in a logical, step-by-step manner to break down a larger system of information into its parts.
Creative thinking is often referred to as “thinking outside the box.” Does what it says on the tin.
Linked to the above, critical thinking adds a further step into analytical thinking. In addition to precise, objective analysis, critical thinking involves synthesis, evaluation and reflection.
Concrete thinking refers to the ability to comprehend and apply factual knowledge. It involves thinking only on the surface, always literal, and to-the-point.
How can you take advantage of the different types of thinking?
If you are a convergent thinker, you are more likely to be an analytical thinker. You are generally able to logically process thoughts so you can use your ability to remain cool and calm in times of turmoil.
You are also more likely to be a natural problem solver. Think of any famous super sleuth, from Sherlock Holmes to Inspector Frost, and you will see convergent thinking at play. By gathering various bits of information, they are able to put the pieces of a puzzle together and come up with a logical answer to the question of “Who has done it?”
If you are a concrete thinker, you will only be thinking on the surface. You will also be able to comprehend and apply factual knowledge. It involves only those things which are visible and obvious allowing any individual to observe and understand. It means you are more likely to consider literal meanings and you’re unlikely to get distracted by “what ifs” or other minor details.
Divergent thinking, on the other hand, involves breaking a topic apart to explore its various component parts and then generating new ideas and solutions. Divergent thinking is thinking outwards instead of inward. It is a creative process of developing original and unique ideas and then coming up with a new idea or a solution to a problem.
If you are a divergent thinker, you are more likely to be a good storyteller or creative writer. You are good at setting scenes and a natural entertainer.
However, in breaking apart a topic to explore its various options, you might also find patterns or relationships. This is where your analytical thinking may come into play, thinking in a logical, step-by-step manner in order to analyse data, solve problems, make decisions, or use the information to your advantage.
Creative thinking, on the other hand, refers to conceiving new and innovative ideas by breaking from established thoughts, theories, rules, and procedures. It is not about breaking things down or taking them apart, but rather putting things together in new and imaginative ways.
An analytical thinker may look at a bicycle to determine how it works or what is wrong with it. A creative thinker may look at the same bicycle and think of a new way to make it faster or a new way to use it.
Take a look at yourself!
Whenever you’re considering your next course of action, why not take a minute to consider how you are forming your opinions or conclusions. Ask yourself if you’re sure you’ve considered all alternatives available to you and pay attention to whether you’re assuming you have limited choices. You might just find your mind takes you on an interesting journey!