Convergent and divergent thinking - which is better? What is the difference between them? How to define them?
To make mental work effective and full of creativity, you need to understand the intricacies of thinking. In psychology, there are several models that can help build your own matrix of creative thinking. For example, let us consider the theory of the types of thinking of the American psychologist Joey Guilford. It includes a description of two types of information processing - productive convergent thinking and creative divergent. What are their definitions? What does each of then involve?
Convergent ("convergence") - aimed at finding a single solution to the problem, divergent ("discrepancy") - has a plurality of searches for suitable answers to the problem, a divergence of ideas in different directions.
General thinking structure, description, activities and techniques
The process of thinking starts the collection and processing of information at different levels: semantic, behavioral, sensory, symbolic, and figurative. Each such unit belongs to the subjective and objective perception, to various representations arising at the given moment or reproduction from long-term memory.
The cognitive process occurs when the subject perceives a new or already familiar information - combines the visual image and the semantic component.
In the case of convergent thinking, a person analyzes and builds a coherent chain of events or facts, which inevitably leads to one specific conclusion (result).
When a person applies the style of divergent thinking, his cognitive ability goes in different directions. Thus, divergent thinking uses the components of consciousness to create a new solution to the problem with their help. Not always in the process of thinking, missing links are recreated, but new ones are also being formed.
The components of consciousness can be divided into several types of units.
The first type is an image (picture), which in general belongs to the memory function. Storage of this unit occurs in a holistic form and contains specific information. For example, a specific blue vase with a broken neck and dry flowers. Any picture can later be analyzed in thinking and decomposed into separate components.
Primary memorizing of this type of information occurs with the help of the senses — sight, hearing, smell. It has quite tangible characteristics - color, shape, density, location.
Another type of cognitive units are symbols. They are presented in the form of graphic signs - letters, numbers, etc., which form numerical and alphabetic systems.
They can also associate with real images, but they have their own inner meaning.
And the third kind is the meaning. Meaning is a rather abstract unit and for its construction it uses both the meaning of one word and the sign or the whole sentence. In its turn, any meaning can be associated with a certain way. There is a transformation from meaning to image (graphic or analogy with the specific).
All three types of consciousness units are used in the thinking operations - analysis and synthesis. As a result of the analysis, we get: relations, systems, transformations and various meanings. Meaning, symbols and images form the basis of rational intelligence. However, social intelligence is included in human consciousness, which provides thought information about the mental state of the subject - feelings, emotions, and impressions. All that leads to self-awareness.
The concept of divergent and convergent thinking. Exercises for adults and characteristics
What does divergent thinking mean? As it was mentioned above, divergent thinking for solving a problem allows the movement of thought in several directions at once. If we imagine the process of knowledge, then it is an unfinished gestalt, an incomplete concept (figuratively comparing - a pattern). Convergent is a logical way to fill it with the most appropriate information. Divergent - for the lack of suitable information, looking for alternative material filling voids. What matters is the speed and efficiency of finding the answer. For example, in the test for ease of operating with symbolic units, you need to find ten words on the letter R. It does not matter what method is used for achieving the result, it is important that it is obtained - the gestalt is full. The formal structure is filled with any suitable meaning.
Divergent thinking implies association flexibility. For example, you can test for enumerating the capabilities of a single subject. For example, a stone. If, according to the test results, the respondent calls the “construction of the foundation”, “furnace”, “fortress”, then he will receive a high assessment on the productivity of thinking, but low one for the spontaneity of thinking. All of these options are synonymous and imply only one use of "construction".
But if the respondent cites examples such as “using stone instead of a hammer”, “paper press”, “door support”, he is highly appreciated for his flexibility of thinking. Each answer in this case gives rise to a new meaning and a completely different meaning.
The ability to transform units of consciousness also applies to the capacity for this kind of productivity. Breaking old associative links and forming new ones by combining, for example, real images, incorporating one into the other partially or completely. With such a mental operation, the difference or incompatibility of images can be ignored.
This also includes semantic adaptability, the ability to abstract from specific visual material. For example, the task: a square with six square cells is made up of matches, you need to remove four matches in order to make three adjacent squares. In order to solve the problem, it is necessary to resort to the concept of a square, its significance. In this case, the visual value of the figure does not matter. A person with such an approach puts the puzzle together with ease.
If the convergent productive thinking includes the transformation of semantic content, then the new semantic unit must receive its unique definition and category of meaning. Tasks for convergent thinking imply absolutely predictable output based on available data. For example, to find others in a larger geometric shape. In this case, nothing new happens, the result only confirms the guesswork.
In the process of solving the problem, the conditions and information are entered into a certain cognitive category. Intermediate results are related to the required knowledge from the same category. Transformation of characters or meaning goes on a clear algorithm, which is a generally accepted pattern of action. Convergent thinking excludes the subjective sphere: emotions, impressions, which are in some cases the resources of consciousness.
What is the difference between convergent and divergent thinking?
1. The divergent type begins to work with some uncertainty: what should be done and what should be obtained. It is included in the process of thinking: the development of ideas, algorithms and search for answers again. Convergent uses a pre-made pattern.
2. Convergent type is aimed at elaboration of an existing algorithm and obtaining a strictly defined result. Divergent - goes beyond the generally accepted method of solution, implies a multi-dimensional search.
3. Convergent - critical, unambiguous answer. Divergent - multivariance, relativity of meaning.
Divergent and convergent thinking. Examples, tools and skills. Which type is better? How to improve them?
The traditional approach (convergence) is more reliable, rational. At the character level, their exact match is obtained (for example, two identical forms of a word). Divergent generates many new ways to use objects (symbols), however, the result requires checking compliance with reality, the adequacy of perception.
Divergent thinking uses various approaches to restore the "destroyed" or distorted text (meaning), the transformation of semantic units. Operating images gives the recognition of analogies, the use of analogy as a principle of operation for another mechanism. For example, the analogy, "heart - pump."
Convergent thinking: the transformation of meaning is carried out in the same category.
Divergent: transformation between categories at different levels of consciousness (reframing). Any expression can be used as a metaphor, as well as a specific description of the situation. In the field of advertising and marketing, a number of methods are used, aimed at influencing the subjective (emotional) sphere of a person.
Both types of thinking are important for the productive work of consciousness and the achievement of goals. The combination of both types of operating information can be demonstrated on the example of the composer. First, the composer is guided by the idea and inspiration, he creates a new musical motive. Then he brings his creation to specific combinations of notes within the framework of the finished system. Formally he uses the same characters for recordings as other musicians. One type of thinking complements the other. It happens that at first a person goes through all possible solutions to a problem, and if they do not fit his ideas, he uses a creative (divergent) approach.