Convergent Thinking: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 What Is Convergent Thinking?
  • 0:24 Differences between…
  • 1:35 Examples of Convergent…
  • 2:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor
Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Expert Contributor
Jennifer Levitas

Jennifer has a Ph.D. in Psychology. She's taught multiple college-level psychology courses and been published in several academic journals.

Convergent thinking is a term used to describe the process of finding a single best solution to a problem. Learn about convergent thinking, how it differs from divergent thinking, and more.

Definition

Convergent thinking is the process of finding a single best solution to a problem that you are trying to solve. Many tests that are used in schools, such as multiple choice tests, spelling tests, math quizzes, and standardized tests, are measures of convergent thinking. Traditional intelligence tests, such as the Stanford-Binet, also measure convergent testing.

Differences Between Convergent and Divergent Thinking

How does convergent thinking differ from divergent thinking? Divergent thinking is the process of creating many unique solutions in order to solve a problem. The problem of convergent thinking is systematic and logical, unlike divergent thinking, which is spontaneous and free-flowing. When using convergent thinking, we apply logical steps in order to determine what is the single best solution.

Whenever we use divergent thinking, we search for options instead of just choosing among predetermined options. Convergent thinking relies heavily on logic and less on creativity, while divergent thinking emphasizes creativity. Divergent thinking works best in problems that are open-ended and allow for creativity.

Convergent thinking works best in situations where a single best correct answer exists and it is possible to discover the answer through analyzing available stored information. For example, if someone asked you what 2 + 2 is, you know there is only one solution that works and that you can use your understanding of addition and numbers to find the best answer, which is 4.

Examples of Convergent and Divergent Thinking

Suppose that you were teaching a group of first graders how to detect rhyming words. You present them with the following two questions:

  1. Which word rhymes with slice?
    1. Dice
    2. Sled
    3. Might
    4. Tan
  2. List as many words as you can that rhyme with lead.

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Additional Activities

Convergent and Divergent Thinking

Writing Prompt 1:

Convergent thinking is a process whereby a person arrives at a single, correct answer. Divergent thinking, on the other hand, is when a person thinks creatively, outside the box, and in a non-linear fashion. School systems tend to assess and reward convergent thinking. Reflect on your own cognitive style. Which type of thinking do you engage in more? Are you more of a convergent thinker or more of a divergent thinker? For example, you may feel that you are more of a divergent thinker, because you frequently come up with novel and atypical solutions to problems that do not occur to other people. Write a reflective journal entry describing your cognitive style and provide a rationale or examples.

Writing Prompt 2:

There are benefits and drawbacks associated with both convergent and divergent thinking. Most people use both ways of thinking at different times, but each type of thinking may be better for different types of jobs. For this activity, list three jobs for which you feel convergent thinking would be better, and three jobs for which you feel that divergent thinking would be more appropriate. For example, a primarily convergent thinker may be comfortable in an accounting job, whereas a primarily divergent thinker may better enjoy a job in advertising.

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