The Human mind neither likes to sit idle nor does it go blank even for a second. This means we are in love with thinking. But do we all think in similar ways or does it differ? Types of thinking vary from one person to the other and these types help to understand the world around us.
They help in analyzing situations, creating an idea, planning to move the idea towards goal accomplishment, etc. These types also help us to solve problems and make wise decisions and logical choices in our daily life.
Let us know more about the various ways people think and make sense of their immediate world.
Types of thinking
Types of thinking refer to the various cognitive nurturing and brainstorming that humans do to understand the world around them. In short, thinking occurs when a person ponders, and uses the mental faculties to logically consider and reason everything happening around him or her.
Have you ever thought of the way you actually think while the process goes on inside your head? No, you don’t.
When you come across a problem in daily life, how do you think about it to resolve the issue? Or what strategies do you follow to logically make a vital decision in life? Do you analyze the problem deeply or look at it superficially?
Are you a divergent thinker or a convergent thinker? Do you possess critical thinking skills that make you find creative solutions to the problem in hand?
There are no easy answers to these questions. We are just busy thinking day and night about so many known and unknown issues that we hardly seem to realize how we’re thinking, or what tools we use to draw conclusions effectively.
Thinking is a complex cognitive process. This cognitive processing allows the brain to analyze a problem, create new ideas, processes information, and solves the problem.
In reality, there are different types of thinking and it differs from one person to the other. This means we all think but not in a similar way. The same problem will be thought about in two different ways by two different people.
Sometimes, the same person can use different thinking styles to resolve a problem. The type of thinking that a person uses depends upon the personality of the individual, the problem that needs to be solved, emotional state of the person, upbringing, and the environment in general.
Learning about the different types of thinking is highly beneficial for the individual because it helps in reasonable problem solving. The person knows how to analyze and synthesize a problem from different angles so that effective problem solving is possible.
Moreover, when you know the thinking style, you’ll be quicker in accurate decision making. Maybe, you will channelize your thoughts and logic in desired ways so that you do not get stuck somewhere in between.
Knowing the various types of thinking is a metacognitive process where you become aware of your cognitive strengths and use them as and when needed.
Thus, for personal growth, you should focus on the various ways of thinking so that you know which style to use when, so that effective solutions to the problems can be ascertained.
10 different ways people think / Types of thinking skills
There are a number of basic ways people think and make sense of the immediate surroundings. Thinking is an introspective process of deep pondering and contemplation. It means it occurs somewhere inside you.
You can also engage in different thinking styles throughout the day. Our thought processes are not always the same in a day. It varies according to the situation and the problem we are facing in reality.
When you learn to think in different ways, it helps you to process information and manage the information overload in easy ways.
Let’s get our basics right by understanding the various thinking styles.
1. Critical thinking
This is one of the most talked about types of thinking in the list. This type of thinking relies on objective evaluation and detailed analysis of the information before making a decision.
The person uses careful evaluation so that nothing gets out of its way. If you are a critical thinker, you will ask questions; probe the underlying issues in detail before deriving a definite conclusion.
Critical thinkers use the existing data, facts, and figures to evaluate their relative importance and credibility to solve a problem. You will get into the details of the observed facts and will chalk out an overall plan that will solve the problem fully.
Sometimes critical thinkers also consider the associated factors that could impact the original problem. In critical thinking, you will evaluate the pros and cons in detail so that nothing is missed out in the way.
Critical thinkers will evaluate all the possible factors related to a problem in detail, just to understand their impact on the problem and how they can be fully overcome.
Critical thinking facilitates individual learning. You become a pro in your field of work if you have the ability to look at things from various perspectives.
Characteristics of critical thinkers
- Critical thinkers have great observation power
- They are inquisitive and curious to get deeper into the problem
- Good critical thinkers are objective and logical
- They believe in deep introspection
- They can challenge their beliefs and biases to arrive at a logical conclusion
- Critical thinkers are not swayed by empathy and compassion because they know emotions can make them do faulty decision making.
- They are open-minded and remain flexible to the new information that can change their ultimate decision.
- They probe all the details before deciding on anything vital in life.
2. Analytical thinking
In this type of thinking, the thinker approaches the problem in a methodical and structured manner. They break the problem in parts and get into the details of it. As the term analysis suggests, this thinking is detail oriented and looks into all the small elements that make the whole issue.
This type of thinking follows a definite pattern, where the thinker identifies and defines the problem clearly, then sets into the mission to find clues and cues that lead to a solution.
Analytical thinking helps to resolve complicated tasks by evaluating the information from all ends. The problem solving gets easier as the thinker breaks the problem into small parts and studies them carefully before taking a final call.
Analytical thinking involves logic. It is a type of thinking skill that involves step by step problem solving ability of the thinker.
Characteristics of analytical thinkers
- They search for information, facts, and evidence.
- Analytical thinkers analyze, break information or data into many small parts so that they can do analysis synthesis as needed.
- Analytical thinkers follow an orderly and systematic approach to problem solving
- They follow routines
- Owns a sharp memory
- Over Analyzes everything in detail
- Examines the parts of a problem very minutely
- They seek information and evidences that can help them to effective problem solving
3. Creative thinking
When you think out of the box, you become a creative thinker. Creative thinking is a type of thought process that involves considering something in an absolutely new way. You are creating a new idea of nowhere.
This type of thinking lets the person stretch his or her boundaries and conceive new ideas that are both novel and innovative.
A creative thinker always produces something new. They prefer to defy the established ways of doing things. Rather they love to create new ways that none others have ever thought of.
When you think creatively, you also learn to look at things from various perspectives. Your chain of thought looks for new information that can facilitate conceiving new ideas and work on them.
Creative thinkers are imaginative. They look into the problem from various angles and create something new from everything that is old and monotonous.
All creative thinkers are flexible and love to take up new challenges. You will always find them seeking solutions that are innovative and not the usual ones, as already been done by others.
Characteristics of creative thinkers
- Creative thinkers are curious souls. They enjoy generating creative ideas on the table
- They are good at conceiving new and innovative ideas
- They play with ideas and see what works best for them in a given situation
- A creative thinker is open-minded. They are willing to hear and take in ideas from others
- They love personal freedom and independence, so that they can create new ideas without any external restrictions
- Creative thinkers can take risks that are associated with conceiving an out of the box idea
- Creative thinkers follow their gut feeling. Their intuition is strong and gives them a logical bent of mind as well.
- They are thorough and ambitious in nature
4. Abstract thinking
Abstract thinking involves patterns and symbols. Here the thinker finds a relationship between random things that seems unrelated but actually has a connection with one another.
Abstract thinkers can find out hidden meanings behind events. They are good at relating those hidden meanings to some other core connection quite seamlessly. Most abstract thinkers are good at reasoning and problem solving.
Abstract thinkers always hunt for possibilities that are futuristic. It means they are good at relating current events with future possibilities.
They can foresee the future and do the needful in the current state to make things work out in desirable ways.
Abstract thinkers are good observers. They are curious to understand how things relate to a bigger possibility. These individuals are accurate and deep thinkers. Solving problems by using patterns and symbols is not an easy job after all.
Characteristics of abstract thinkers
- They always look into the deeper meaning
- Tends to relate small details of a current event to future possibilities
- Abstract thinkers are interested to know the unknown
- They focus on various uncommon elements related to a problem
- Abstract thinkers may not remember precise details but they prefer looking at the problem as a whole
- They hate structure and routine.
- Abstract thinkers always seek new ways of problem solving that others see as absolute trash.
5. Concrete thinking
Concrete thinking is based on real life events and the physical world. A concrete thinker is present focused and relies on what they experience in the real world. They cannot see future possibilities but prefer to consider only those things that make sense in the present circumstances.
Concrete thinking allows taking things at face value. People who follow his thinking style do not generalize the information to other situations and circumstances.
Concrete thinking is literal. This thinking style is based on sensory data that comes from the immediate physical world. They love to see, hear, feel, and experience things that are going on around them ‘now and here’.
Characteristics of concrete thinkers
- A concrete thinker believes only in physical reality.
- They cannot experience or think about things that they cannot see, hear, taste, or smell.
- Concrete thinkers find it hard to experience what lies beyond a situation.
- They are present focused and as such finds it hard to see future events.
- Tries to find a single answer to the problem
- They comprehend and apply factual knowledge
- Prefers theories, rules, and procedures
6. Application thinking
Application thinking takes place when you transfer a theoretical knowledge to practical usage. Your mind connects the dots in a sequence and makes new connections. This type of thinking is usually common amongst students who learn concepts and use them in real life situations.
Application thinking is all about combining the various theories and concepts and using them in real life situations.
Characteristics of application thinkers:
- Application thinkers use logical reasoning to relate past learning to real life new situations.
- They combine existing information with new ones and apply them to situations where it is relevant.
- Application thinking involves using existing knowledge to create new forms of learning.
- Application thinkers are imaginative and creative.
- They know how to join the various information received from the outside world, and use them in new areas of learning.
7. Convergent thinking
In convergent thinking, the thinker uses various thinking strategies to resolve a problem or work on a big goal. You will combine different ways to reach your end goal or resolve an issue.
In convergent thinking, you will choose the best part of all the available options to solve the problem. The main aim of this type of thinking is to find the best outcome by using a combination of ways and tools.
Convergent thinkers believe in fixing issues the moment they appear by any means. They never keep problems alive for a long time.
Characteristics of convergent thinkers
- Convergent thinkers are creative minds
- They analyze all possible solutions to the problem.
- They find out the best outcome by combining the best of all the available options
- Convergent thinkers minimize risk and maximize profits
- They sort out viable ideas from varied options and works towards solving the issue effectively
8. Divergent thinking
Divergent thinking is a creative process where you will think of different innovative ways to solve problems. This is an open-minded option where the thinker remains open to many different options.
Divergent thinking is unstructured and flexible. In this type of thinking, you will tap your thinking skills in varied ways so that new ideas to resolve the issue come effortlessly to you.
Divergent thinking involves risk and curiosity to reach a solution to problems.
Characteristics of divergent thinkers
- Divergent thinkers can think about many possible ideas
- They have multiple ways known to them to resolve an issue
- They think of innovative ideas that many others will never think of
- These people also remain flexible when it comes to improving their ideas
- Divergent thinkers are flexible and open-minded
- Applying logic by using multiple choices available to them
- They see the big picture because they seek new options that brings solutions to problems
9. Linear thinking
In linear thinking, you will organize the information in a methodical manner and solve the problem in a stepwise manner. It means you will solve the problem in a straight line fashion.
Linear thinking involves resolving each problem solving stage in a systematic manner before moving on to the next stage.
In linear thinking, the thinker follows a definite pattern and method. It is a highly structured way of thinking where a systematic methodology is used to reach the outcome.
Characteristics of linear thinkers
- Linear thinkers think in a flowchart, a straight line format where the person prefers to think in a specific line.
- It is a systematic approach to complex problem solving
- Linear thinking is logical and sequential
- Linear thinking is based on facts and figures
- They will put all the basic parts in order so that the entire problem can be studied in totality
10. Non-linear thinking
This type of thinking is an overall approach. Here, the thinker thinks about ideas that are holistic and takes into consideration the whole problem in hand.
Nonlinear thinking is an artistic and creative thinking style. It is intuitive and less restrictive in nature. In nonlinear thinking, the thinker thinks in various directions and tries to find out the best possible solution to the problem.
Characteristics of nonlinear thinkers
- They try to relate unrelated things that could lead to a possible solution
- Nonlinear thinking helps the thinker to create ideas and imagine even the impossible solutions
- They always take a creative path to problem solving
- Nonlinear thinkers can grasp abstract ideas.
Types of thinkers
So far we have discussed the different types of thinking styles that people employ in their daily lives. It is clear that some people have a creative bent of mind while there are others who approach all problems in an analytical manner.
Some of us are linear thinkers while others are nonlinear types. So, we have unique minds that possess unique qualities.
Let’s understand the 5 key thinkers that humans can be broadly classified into:
An idealist sets big goals that are in tune with their larger than life mindset. They are deep thinkers and often act like a perfectionist.
An idealist puts his best foot forward to achieve the goals they have set for themselves. These individuals seek future opportunities for their personal growth. Idealists are team players but they expect the same level of dedication and consistency from their co-workers.
An idealist lives on hope and possibilities. They always put their goals of life in the priority list and will do anything to achieve them successfully.
This type of thinker is creative and innovative. They love to explore abstract things because of their inquisitive and creative nature.
They love opposing views that challenge their mind in developing new strategies of problem solving.
Synthesists are always eager to know ‘What-If’ situations. They are risk takers and trust their intuition and abilities fully.
When we talk about pragmatists, someone that comes to our mind is a typical reality-oriented person.
These individuals think in step by step, logical ways. Pragmatists prefer to stay in the present time. Unlike idealists, they are short term planners.
They cannot think about the future because it’s unknown and ambiguous. These thinkers are not at all comfortable with future planning.
The Analyst is a rational and intellectual problem solver. They prefer to gather all sorts of data regarding a problem, and then analyze all of them in detail, before arriving at a definite conclusion.
Summing Up from ‘ThePleasantMind’
Do you know that you can actually speed up your thought process with practice and practice only? Types of thinking can be combined by the same person while solving a particular problem.
When your thinking skills are developed in the best ways, you will be able to solve complex problems easily.
Your incredible brain power will be developed in such a way that you will be able to resolve all problems in the best way.
A Psychologist with a master's degree in Psychology, a former school psychologist, and a teacher by profession Chandrani loves to live life simply and happily. She is an avid reader and a keen observer. Writing has always been a passion for her, since her school days. It helps to de-stress and keeps her mentally agile. Pursuing a career in writing was a chance occurrence when she started to pen down her thoughts and experiences for a few childcare and parenting websites. Her lovable niche includes mental health, parenting, childcare, and self-improvement. She is here to share her thoughts and experiences and enrich the lives of few if not many.