Thinking (convergent v. divergent)


(convergent v. divergent)

There are 2 types of thinking; convergent and divergent

Convergent thinking

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Convergent thinkers work in a rational, analytical, reasoned, logical, systematic way with an orderly arrangement of facts so that one correct answer is found.

It is a process of collecting facts and, through a process of elimination, narrows down options until a solution is found.

This line of thinking is sometimes called vertical thinking as there is a logical route which leads to the right answer.

The process of growing up, community pressure and many education practices, especially mathematics and science, strongly reinforce convergent thinking, which is exemplified by conformity.

Standard IQ and entrance tests focus on convergent thinking, ie finding the right answer. Decision-making is another example of convergent thinking.

Divergent thinking

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Divergent thinking is intuitive thinking which encourages several possible solutions: novel, unexpected answers potentially have equal acceptability, ie not necessarily one right answer but multiple potential solutions.

Divergent thinking is creative thinking that is not concerned with looking for solutions but is looking for many ideas that may lead to possible solutions. It goes in many different directions to look for possibilities and may appear not to be moving towards the solution.

An example of divergent thinking is dialogue.

(sources: Neville Smith et al, 1990; Dennis Hall, 2006a)


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