Are you a convergent or divergent thinker?

The two categories of learning styles are divergent and convergent thinking. These are roughly analogous to the right brain left brain modes which have been widely researched and publicised in recent years.

Divergent thinking

Divergent thinking is synonymous with “creative” thinkers or outside the box thinkers; they seek alternative solutions and look for the “big picture.” Convergent thinkers are seeking a specific solution or the capacity to find the single best answer to a problem. They set up a problem and then set about solving it linearly. Convergent thinking and divergent thinking are complementary; one is not preferable to the other, and they are not mutually exclusive, in the past our culture and educational systems have ignored the importance of divergent thinking, to our detriment. We have not effectively taught those for whom it is a predominant cognitive style, nor have we developed it in predominantly convergent thinkers.

Psychological form of creativity

Divergent thinking is viewed as a psychological form of creativity. Divergent thinkers commonly approach problems where they try to come up with as many solutions as possible. It has been suggested that creativity is not the ability to create something out of nothing, but the ability to generate new ideas by combining, changing or reapplying existing ideas. Divergent thinking depends upon on imagination, intuition, the hidden links between words and ideas.

Many traits are listed by psychologists as part of the creative presence. Erich Fromm emphasised the ability to concentrate, and the capacity to be puzzled, to take nothing for granted. A surprising number of psychologist notice the importance of a will to work. Creative people do not lounge around waiting for a lightning moment of inspiration. However, individuality, an inquiring habit of mind and the ability to see and respond would be the three primary roots on which creativity blossoms.

Convergent thinking

Convergent thinking is at work, for instance when people are making things with their hands, taking multiple-choice tests, drawing up balance sheets or dealing with well-defined emergencies which previous training has been programmed. It is the ability to produce responses that are based on primarily knowledge and logic.

teamSimon is a Sydney based digital designer. He is the Director of a boutique digital design studio, Bailey Street Design located in the vibrant inner west suburb of Newtown. Simon studied graphic design at Shillington College and specialises in web design for small and medium size businesses. Simon and his team (Toby the studio dog) are passionate about visual communication in the digital environment


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