In this article you will find a practical explanation of Convergent Thinking. After reading, you will understand the basic concepts of this way of thinking which is used for problem solving.
Convergent Thinking was developed by psychologist Joy Paul Guilford, who studied human intelligence. According to Guilford, human beings possess two types of thinking: Divergent Thinking and Convergent Thinking. In this article we will take a closer look at Convergent Thinking.
What is Convergent Thinking?
Convergent Thinking is a type of thinking that all human beings possess but that some people develop in a different way than others. Each human being puts this type of thinking into action depending on the situation he or she lives in.
Convergent Thinking seeks only one correct answer to a problem or a specific situation. It does not need creativity to be able to find solutions, instead, logic and reflection are necessary to find answers to the resolution of conflicts that a person has.
It is also used as a form of learning and education in schools and universities around the world in knowledge tests such as standardised multiple-choice tests in which only one answer is correct. Its line of thinking is vertical and specific where logic is right and results in an exact and unique answer.
In Convergent Thinking there are no possibilities and different options. Reflecting and carrying out a single answer is what is important. This means that the process of this type of thinking is one of reflection, action and precise result in a situation that requires a quick and logical process, using all available information.
In what situations is Convergent Thinking used?
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, Convergent Thinking is used by all human beings in different situations that arise in life, whether personal or professional situations.
However, it is important to note that it is used more when there are difficult situations that require concentration such as making important decisions where thinking has to be critical, analytical and reflective.
Logic as the axis of Convergent Thinking
In this way of thinking, the following tools are used to develop Convergent Thinking: evaluating, filtering and selecting the information one has in order to find a single solution to the problem or situation presented by the person.
There are people who develop Convergent Thinking much more than others. These types of people are not impulsive or passionate when it comes to making decisions. They first think, evaluate and reflect on what is best based on indicators or scientific criteria in order to move forward in problem solving.
It is essential to identify what is really useful to solve closed, logical and concrete problems.
- Logical and rational thinking
- It tries to arrive at a solution by examining patterns with the information it has
- It looks for the concrete, the tangible
- Landing ideas to have something real
- Define, specify, plan and find a solution
Advantages of Convergent Thinking
This type of thinking helps to make decisions in situations that can be complex. People who develop this type of thinking in depth can be more confident and secure when making decisions because they have analysed the different alternatives on the table and have opted for the answer or solution that they believe is the best and most concrete.
It also helps with logic and critical thinking. These skills are developed when under pressure or in difficult moments in the professional environment where it is necessary to make precise decisions in order to achieve success in the resolution of conflicts that can damage a company.
Disadvantages of Convergent Thinking
The following disadvantages are linked to Convergent Thinking.
- It can limit creativity as a person with Convergent Thinking only relies on true, tangible data that can offer solutions. Intuition is ruled out in this way of thinking.
- It lowers the mood as being in a constant mode of critical thinking and reflection makes people more serious, sad and nervous because of the logical effort they exert in daily life.
Examples of Convergent Thinking
The following are examples of situations when Convergent Thinking is applied by humans in daily life.
- Taking important decisions when reviewing different alternatives when working on a business project and you are the leader. The person involved must review the options, analyse, reflect and take the best alternative that is offered by his or her team.
- A student who is taking an exam, must analyse and remember the previous information that he/she had studied for the test, with the collection of information that he/she has, he/she will be able to analyse the options of the exam and choose the best answer that he/she believes is the correct one. According to your previous studies and with the information you are being given in the document you will put Convergent Thinking into practice.
- Planning a trip, something that seems simple but is important because when people go out of their comfort zone they have to analyse and identify the best options and choose only one for the trip. Doing all the logical planning of budget, accommodation, transport and choosing what best suits your intentions puts this type of thinking into practice.
These are simple, everyday examples that people are often doing with cognitive processes.
Convergent Thinking Personality
Some studies reflect that a person’s personality with convergent and divergent thinking is associated with the actions of spontaneity, imagination, artistic interests, liberal attitudes and others are associated with divergent thinking.
However, Convergent Thinking has not shown signs of a personality appropriation as all human beings regardless of their personality type will always use Convergent Thinking in situations that demand it.
Convergent vs Divergent Thinking
As explained above, Convergent Thinking is logical, unique and reflective. Only one answer or option is correct. No creativity is needed to find a solution or answer to a situation or problem.
People who use or develop this type of thinking the most are analytical and think through everything before making a single decision. This can lead to the person being more strict with their work and also in their personal life as they analyse everything and rarely let spontaneity flow.
On the other hand, there is Divergent Thinking which is the opposite of the above. Divergent Thinking uses creativity to look for different alternatives and solutions to a situation or problem. A person who uses or develops more of this type of thinking is usually spontaneous in making decisions and creating different options in their personal and professional life.
The stimulation of creativity is the strength of Divergent Thinking. Constantly working on this stimulation can lead to original solutions to a situation as ideas can flow more naturally.
Can these types of thinking work together?
Although these types have their distinct differences, it is vital to keep in mind that Convergent and Divergent Thinking can work hand in hand to achieve the most efficient solution.
By merging the two, with Divergent Thinking being the one that creatively finds the different alternatives and solutions to different problems but when analysing the different options Convergent Thinking puts into action the logical reasoning of what may be the best option, you will have a successful fusion where the person puts the two ways of thinking to work together.
Practical use of Convergent Thinking
Convergent Thinking is used in the education of students. In most of the tests implemented by schools or universities are standardised tests that are multiple choice tests where the correct answer is unique. With this technique you study the alternatives given by the test and put into practice to choose the best option according to the knowledge acquired by the student in his learning stage.
It is also used in situations under pressure, whether in a work or personal difficulty. This requires the person to be focused and to analyse the pros and cons of the situation in order to make the best decision. This is why it is said to be used by all human beings according to the situation they are in and where most of these situations are situations that require high responsibility and commitment.
Convergent Thinking has been criticised by different researchers as, according to them, problems can have different solutions and that these can be carried out together without having to take only one as the correct one.
Using this way of thinking can also overshadow minorities who have a more Divergent Thinking style as in the end the person with the logical thinking will always make the precise decision for problem solving, forgetting the voice of others.
All human beings use Convergent Thinking in some processes of daily life, however, many people develop this type of thinking much more and put it into practice on a daily basis.
Not taking risks, playing it safe and having a result that is 100% correct is what is always sought after in this way of thinking. Mathematics and the exact sciences can prove it, the logic is undeniable and precise and brings with it a single result.
Many people constantly develop and practice Convergent Thinking because of the situations that arise.
Convergent Thinking is all about identifying, reflecting, evaluating and taking action on a single alternative. It is a great tool for making important decisions that are necessary to protect or save assets, businesses and other assets.
Imagination and flexibility do not play a role in this way of thinking. Objectivity has a linear and vertical direction to obtain the unique answer you are looking for. Convergent Thinking takes into account that there is a beginning and an end following logical and rational patterns for that unique answer.
It is your turn
What do you think? Do you think Convergent Thinking can be merged with Divergent Thinking? Is Convergent Thinking always used in daily life by all human beings without exception? What kind of thinking styles do you think you have? Can you please share with us a little bit how you use it and in what kind of situations? Do you have anything else to add or any suggestions?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
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- Chamorro-Premuzic, T., & Reichenbacher, L. (2008). Effects of personality and threat of evaluation on divergent and convergent thinking. Journal of Research in Personality, 42(4), 1095-1101.
- Chermahini, S. A., & Hommel, B. (2012). Creative mood swings: divergent and convergent thinking affect mood in opposite ways. Psychological research, 76(5), 634-640.
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