The ability to reason is commonly known by the term thinking . The idea of thought can be understood with a series of labels. Thus, there is rational, critical, abstract or creative thinking . In this article , we’ll focus on a specific modality: divergent thinking.
The fundamental idea of divergent thinking
This mode of thinking is based on generating ideas through unconventional approaches. In this sense, divergent equals creative. However, both creative and divergent thinking are not exactly the same. The first is to produce original ideas, while the second is the ability to see multiple possible answers to a question. Therefore, divergent thinking seeks numerous solutions and not just one. In other words, it’s about thinking in an unusual way.
Linear thinking versus divergent thinking
In a schematic way, it can be said that linear thinking is based on already accepted mental schemas, while divergent is an attempt to find answers out of the ordinary. Let’s suppose a person addresses the need to find a needle in a haystack. According to the conventional intellectual position, a person would search tirelessly until he finds the needle, but it is very likely that he will not succeed.
On the other hand, a person who thinks unconventionally might decide to burn the haystack to ashes and thus finally find the needle. It can be said that divergent thinking is an intellectual formula that alters the linearity of thought and creates an alternative path.
Let’s illustrate divergent thinking again with an example. The toilet paper cardboard cylinder initially serves a purpose, however when thinking differently we can conclude that there are other uses: it serves to curl the hair; as a rolling pin; telescope; knife handle; barrel of a gun; athletics cylinder ; between others.
Think outside the box
Some scholars of divergent thinking consider traditional thinking to be like a box that concentrates concepts and expectations that have already been elaborated in advance.
On the other hand, thinking differently means reflecting and creating ideas out of the box. Thus, “getting out of the box” entails exchanging moral perceptions and altering concepts to create new ideas. Obviously, ideas taken outside the box are not applied inside the box.