Divergent Thinking in Psychology: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:04 What Is Divergent Thinking?
  • 1:22 Brainstorming
  • 3:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Chris Clause
In this lesson, you will learn to define divergent thinking and be given two examples of divergent thinking that are used in everyday situations. Following the lesson, you will have the opportunity to test your knowledge with a short quiz.

What Is Divergent Thinking?

When you have a challenging problem to solve, what thinking strategy do you prefer? Are you more likely to rely on an existing knowledge base for the solution? Maybe you go with the simplest solution first. Or, you could be the kind of person who prefers to lay all the options out on the table and then decide? In most situations, a solution can be reached using any of these strategies, but they are not all created equal. In this lesson, we are going to focus on one specific thinking strategy that can be used to solve problems: divergent thinking.

Divergent thinking refers to a way of solving problems wherein a variety of possible solutions are proposed in an effort to find one that works. This is in contrast to convergent thinking, which relies on focusing on a finite number of solutions rather than proposing multiple solutions. Divergent thinking takes its name from the idea that a theoretically limitless number of sometimes even unrelated solutions can be generated in an effort to find the best one.

Divergent thinking is an important aspect of creative thinking. The creative process doesn't always take you directly to the best solution but, by encouraging a variety of possible solutions, new ideas are more likely to emerge.

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