Convergent Thinking

Convergent thinking - toolshero

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.

The theory behind this thinking style 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 the second style.

What is Convergent Thinking?

Convergent Thinking is a type of thinking that all human beings use. Some people develop it 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.

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Using CT leads to one correct answer, or a single best solution, to a problem or a specific situation. It does not need creativity to be able to find solutions. Instead, logic and reflection are used to find answers to the resolution of conflicts that a person has.

This thinking style is also used as a form of learning and education in schools and universities around the world. It is often applied 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 different possibilities and 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 results. It is especially valuable in situations that requires quick and logical thinking, using all available information.

As mentioned before, this thinking style is used by all human beings. It is used in different situations that arise in life, both at a personal and professional level. However, it is used more in difficult situations that require focus. Examples are decisions where thinking has to be critical and reflective.

Pros

This type of thinking helps to make decisions in situations that can be complex. People who develop this type of thinking in depth are more confident and secure when making decisions. This is because they analyse alternatives on the table and opt for the answer.

This type of thnking also helps with logical and critical thinking. These skills are developed under pressure or in difficult moments in the professional environment. Often, it is necessary to make precise decisions in order to achieve success.

Cons

The following cons 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.
  • Applying this thinking style too often can result in mood swings. It is important to sometimes take a break from critical thinking and appreciate the small things in life.

Examples

Some examples of situations when Convergent Thinking is applied are shared below.

  • Taking important decisions requires reviewing different alternatives, especially when working on a business project and you are the leader. The project leader must review the options, analyse, reflect and take the best alternative that is offered by the team.
  • Lets consider the example in which a student is taking an exam. He or she must analyse and remember the stored information that he or she studied for the test. The information that is acquired, enables the student to analyse the options of the exam and choose the best answer.

These are simple, everyday examples that happen often.

Convergent vs Divergent Thinking

As explained above, CT 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.

Convergent thinkers analyse as much information as possible, and think through everything before making a single decision. This often leads to persons being strict with their work and in their personal life. These people analyse everything, and rarely let creativity flow. Convergent thinking contrasts with divergent thinking.

Divergent Thinking uses creativity to look for different alternatives and solutions to a situation or problem. The process of divergent thinking is different from the convergent thinking process. Divergent thinkers are usually spontaneous in their decision making and often come up with creative ideas. This creative problem solving method is also used in both professional and personal situations.

The stimulation of creativity is the strength of Divergent Thinking. Constantly working on this stimulation can lead to the free flowing of original ideas and answers to a problem.

The connection between these thinking styles and personalities has often been studied. The results indicate that openness and extroversion personality traits are linked to divergent thinking. Openness assesses intellectual curiosity, imagination, artistic interests, liberal attitudes, and originality.

Practical use of Convergent Thinking

Convergent Thinking is used in the education of students. Most of the tests used by schools or universities are standardized multiple choice tests. The question has only one correct answer. Reviewing the alternative answers and selecting the correct answer based on the evaluation is an example of convergent thinking.

It is also used in situations under pressure, regardless if it is a work or personal situation. In situations of that kind, a person has to focus and analyse the pros and cons of each alternative solution.. This is why it is said to be used by all human beings, depending on the situation they are in.

It is your turn

What do you think? Do you think Convergent Thinking can be merged with other thinking styles? Is this style 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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More information

  1. Cropley, A. (2006). In praise of convergent thinking. Creativity research journal, 18(3), 391-404.
  2. Taft, R., & Rossiter, J. R. (1966). The remote associates test: divergent or convergent thinking?. Psychological Reports, 19(3_suppl), 1313-1314.
  3. 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.
  4. 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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