Thinking is a complex process which involves manipulation of information as we form concepts. It also engages in problem solving, reasoning and making decisions. Thinking is a higher cognitive function and the analysis of thinking processes is part of cognitive psychology. Thinking is a pattern of behaviour in which we make use of internal representations (symbols, signs etc.) of things and events for the solution of some specific, purposeful problem.

Types of Thinking

a) Convergent Thinking
b) Divergent Thinking
c) Critical Thinking
d) Reflective Thinking
e) Lateral Thinking

a) Convergent Thinking

Convergent thinking proceeds on the assumption that there is one single best solution to any problem, and also that the solution can be arrived at on the basis of the existing knowledge. Thus, convergent thinking involves the direction of all thought process in one single direction. "Convergent" thinking is in which the person is good at bringing material from a variety of sources to bear on a problem, in such a way as to produce the "correct" answer. Because of the need for consistency and reliability, this is really the only form of thinking which standardized intelligence tests (and even national exams) can test.

b)       Divergent Thinking

"Divergent" thinking may start from existing knowledge, but it proceeds in different directions and are not limited or bound by existing knowledge. At times divergent thinker may question and doubt the adequacy of the existing knowledge. This type of thinking may start from a common point and move outward into a variety of perspectives. When fostering divergent thinking, teachers use the content as a vehicle to prompt diverse or unique thinking among students rather than a common view. Divergent thinking is also creative thinking. It generates something new or different. It involves having a different idea that works as well or better than previous ideas. Thus, divergent thinkers have an open mind. He is not controlled by the belief that there is “one best solution” to any problem or “the correct answer” to any question.

Get Detailed Information: What is Divergent Thinking?

Difference between Convergent Thinking &  Divergent Thinking


Convergent Thinking 
                   Divergent Thinking

  • Non    creative    people    have        convergent thinking.  

  •     Creative people have divergent      thinking.

  • Produces single correct answer.

  •      Produces variety of responses.

  • It is stimulus bound.

  •      It is stimulus free.

  • The problem is solved by known or    common method.

  •     The    problem    is   solved           by different innovative methods.

  • It    is    rigid,    stereotyped    & mechanically operated.

  •     It    is    novel,   exploratory    &     venturesome.

  • It is measured by intelligence test   which  includes remembering, recognition & manipulation of some concrete material.

  •     It is measured by creativity   tests     in which novelty, flexibility & originality are given more       weightage.

  • It  is  known  as  Reasoning  or Rational Thinking.

  •    It is known as Creative Thinking,    Imaginative or Original Thinking.

 Types of Thinking, Convergent Thinking,  Divergent Thinking,  Critical Thinking,  Reflective Thinking,  Lateral Thinking, Difference between Convergent Thinking &  Divergent Thinking, CDP Notes, CTET Exam Notes, Child Development & Pedagogy Study Material


c)       Critical thinking

Critical thinking assesses the worth and validity of something existent. It involves precise, persistent, objective analysis. When teachers try to get several learners to think convergent, they try to help them develop common understanding.

Norris, Stephen P:  “Critical thinking is deciding rationally what to or what not to believe."

According to Moore and Parker, Critical Thinking is "the careful, deliberate determination of whether we should accept, reject, or suspend judgment about a claim, and the degree of confidence with which we accept or reject it.

"Broadly speaking, critical thinking is concerned with reason, intellectual honesty, and open-mindedness, as opposed to emotionalism, intellectual laziness, and closed-mindedness.”

Attributes of a critical thinker:

  •   asks pertinent questions
  •   assesses statements and arguments
  •   is able to admit a lack of understanding or information
  •   has a sense of curiosity
  •   is interested in finding new solutions
  •   is able to clearly define a set of criteria for analyzing ideas
  •   is willing to examine beliefs, assumptions, and opinions  and weigh them against facts
  •   listens carefully to others and is able to give feedback
  •   sees  that  critical  thinking  is  a  lifelong  process  of   self- assessment
  •   suspends judgment until all facts have been gathered  and considered
  •   looks for evidence to support assumption and beliefs
  •   is able to adjust opinions when new facts are found
  •   looks for proof
  •   examines problems closely
  •   Is able to reject information that is incorrect or irrelevant.

d)       Reflective thinking


Dewey's definition of reflective thinking:
"Active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusion to which it tends"

Reflective thinking is normally a slow process. It takes considerable time to work on inferring and combining by reflecting upon what we have learnt:

This is a higher form of thinking.
·         It aims at solving complex problems.
·         It requires reorganization of all the relevant experiences and the finding of new ways of reacting to a situation or of removing an obstacle instead of a simple association of experiences or ideas.
·         There is insightful cognitive approach in reflective thinking.
·         It takes all the relevant facts arranged in a logical order into account in order to arrive at a solution of the problem in hand.
·         It links the information we possess into tighter network, thus helps to remember the matter better.
·         It criticizes what one has learned and tries to expose weaknesses and shortcomings.
·         Enhancing decision making requires that we learn from our successes and failures and catalog mentally for future retrieval what has occurred and why.

e)       Lateral thinking


Lateral thinking is a term coined by Edward de Bono, a Maltese psychologist, physician and writer. It first appeared in the title of his book The Use of Lateral Thinking, published in 1967. De Bono defines lateral thinking as methods of thinking concerned with changing concepts and perception. Lateral thinking is about reasoning that is not immediately obvious and about ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic.

De Bono identifies four critical factors associated with lateral thinking: (1) recognize dominant ideas that polarize perception of a problem, (2) searching for different ways of looking at things, (3) relaxation of rigid control of thinking, and (4) use of chance to encourage other ideas.

Lateral Thinking helps individual to develop skills to:
  • ·         Increase productive idea output.
  • ·         Design the future.
  • ·         Find fresh new solutions to intractable problems.
  • ·         Escape the constraints of routine thinking.
  • ·         Appreciate the diversity of thinking among team members.  
  • ·         Plan and lead innovation meetings that deliver powerful results.
  • ·         Find new areas of opportunity.
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