The 9 types of thinking and their characteristics

Many times we sum up all the mental processes related to the intellect by simply shouting out thoughts. However, the reality is more complex than such an abstract concept. In fact, the individual psychology of each person is composed of different types of thought.

When we make a decision, when we do mental arithmetic, or when we think about issues related to politics, for example, we use different mental processes, which are guided by different logics and even involve different parts of the brain.

Now, how many types of thought and what characteristics do they associate with? Let’s see.

    What is a thought?

    The concept of thought refers to relatively abstract mental processes, voluntary or involuntary, Through which the individual develops his ideas about the environment, others or himself. In other words, thoughts are ideas, memories and beliefs in motion, related to each other.

    Now the thoughts they do not exist as “pure” intellectual activitiesBecause they always go hand in hand with other mental processes related to emotions and generated and regulated by a part of the brain called the limbic system.

    The latter means that thoughts are always “tinted” by emotionality, they are not foreign to feelings and emotions.

    The main types of thoughts

    From what we have seen so far, it is clear that thoughts are very complex and in many cases so abstract that Classifying them in hermetic categories supposes falling into reductionism. However, knowing an indicative classification of thought types has proven to be very helpful in understanding the human mind better.

    With this in mind, and the fact that many of the categories we’ll see below overlap in some ways, let’s take a look at what the main types of thinking on offer are and what characteristics they exhibit.

    1. Deductive thinking

    Deductive thinking is part of the statements based on abstract and universal ideas to apply them to specific cases. For example, if we start from the idea that a French person is someone who lives in France and that France is in Europe, we will conclude that René Descartes, who lived in France, was European.

    2. Inductive thinking

    This type of reflection is not based on general statements, but on particular cases and, from them it generates general ideas. For example, if we observe that pigeons have feathers, ostriches have feathers and herons also have feathers, we can conclude that these three animals are part of an abstract category called “sauropsids”.

    3. Analytical thinking

    Analytical thinking creates information a large unit of information and come to conclusions by seeing how these “fragments” interact with each other.

    4. Lateral or creative thinking

    Creative thinking is about creating original and unique solutions to problems, challenging rules that seem obvious at first glance. For example, a swing seems “predestined” to be used in a very particular type of toy, but it is possible to transgress this idea using it as a support for a pot hanging from a porch. It is one of the most widely used types of thought in arts and crafts.

    5. Soft thought

    This type of thinking is characterized by the use concepts with very blurred and unclear borders, often metaphorical, And the tendency not to avoid contradictions. It is currently very characteristic of currents of thought linked to postmodern philosophy or psychoanalysis. For example, you can see an example of this style in the description of the concepts used by Sigmund Freud in the theory of psychosexual development.

    6. Thinking hard

    Hard thinking uses concepts as defined as possible, And tries to avoid contradictions. It is typical of the type of reasoning related to science, where a slight nuance in the vocabulary used can lead to totally wrong conclusions, and therefore it can be difficult to come out of them, as it requires a fair amount of ‘skill. cognitive functions at the same time to achieve an end.

    7. Divergent thinking

    In divergent thought it is established a division between two or more aspects of an idea, And explore the possibilities of maintaining this “partition”. For example, if someone uses the same word every time it has a different meaning, detecting this error is a case of divergent thinking in which the different meanings are detected. You can see examples of this by looking at the commonly used use of the concept of “natural” as applied to food products, unusual sexual orientations, or generalized behavioral tendencies in general.

    8. Convergent Thinking

    In convergent thinking, there is a process by which we realize that there are different facts or realities that fit together although at first it seemed like they had nothing in common. For example, if a family of monarchs realizes that in a war they are interested in siding with one side, they will start from analyzing the different actors in conflict until reaching a conclusion. overall on the most convenient.

    It is a type of thinking used to detect common patterns and regularities, and can lead to the abstract of a general concept that explains specific parts of reality.

    9. Magical Thinking

    Magical thought it confers intentions on elements that have no will nor self-awareness, much less the ability to act according to plans. For example, a girl who, due to her young age, believes that the waves on the beach are trying to soak her hair uses a magical thought.

    On the other hand, magical thinking is not unique to childhood: it also appears in adults belonging to societies and cultures unfamiliar with writing and science. The reason is that they have not developed a system for subjecting hypotheses to a validity test, and therefore mythical explanations can be held about the reality around us.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Cacioppo, John; Freberg, Laura (2012). Discover psychology: the science of the mind. Canada: Cengage Learning.
      • Morris, Charles (1997). Introduction to psychology (ninth edition). Prentice Hall.
      • Papalia, D. and Wendkos, S. (1992). Psychology. Mexico: McGraw-Hill,
      • Triglia, Adrián; Regader, Bertrand; García-Allen, Jonathan (2016). Psychologically speaking. Paidós.

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