We explain what divergent thinking is and what its objectives are. In addition, the origin of this method and how to promote it.
What is divergent thinking?
Divergent thinking (also known as lateral thinking) is that process or method of thinking that the brain uses to generate creative ideas when exploring all possible solutions for how to deal with each circumstance.
This process occurs in people spontaneously and quickly, because all ideas are generated in a small amount of time and are usually linked together to speed up the process and draw the possibilities in our minds In turn, this type of thinking is considered the most traditional, structured and rational.
Divergent thinking stands out as it emerges from the stimuli it receives and not from the facts . By having this base, the possibility of different trajectories and, therefore, different conclusions is born.
To explain it in a more simple way, we can say that the mind from a single stimulus (questions or conflicting situations, for example) will be born different ideas that will be analyzed to Decide which one is the most successful.
Then, this branch of thought will work together with convergent thinking, which has the function of following a certain number of logical steps in order to reach a conclusion.
See also: Critical Thinking.
Objectives of divergent thinking
The main objective of divergent thinking is to be able to analyze the different points of view of the same problem, modify their thinking habits and keep them always changing and, in addition, multiply the amount of ideas that we are able to produce based on a problem or stimulus that is presented to us.
However, not only by developing divergent thinking we will be able to improve and increase our creativity ; It is also necessary to develop mental flexibility.
Origin of divergent thinking
It is considered that divergent thinking arises in the Renaissance and is considered as the type of dominant thinking in Modernity, because it is the strategy used by both artists and scientists and politicians.
As for the use that is given to it in science, it is essential that this way of thinking is used because it is important that the investigations are analyzed and reviewed every step they take in an adequate and detailed way.
Today, although this method is recognized by specialists, in schools and in any field of education there is still a way of teaching and learning quite traditional. That is to say, the exercises and problems that must be carried out in the different subjects only have a single solution as correct and if they find an alternative or different solution to the established one, they are qualified with a bad score.
The reason why education is in this way is because it was decided to develop the ability of logical deduction of students. However, in some countries new methods are developed that are implemented in schools to encourage the development of divergent thinking and their creativity. These new forms of evaluation are intended to increase, and thus reward, the ability to think differently.
Unlike divergent thinking, the convergent states that the only way to solve or face a problem is to be guided by certain previously determined steps .
However, the defenders of this method are criticized that in this way there will only be a single way to solve the problems and, therefore, a single way to draw conclusions.
In turn, this method reduces the ability to develop creativity because it limits the possibility of innovating and creating new possible solutions or ideas.
How to promote divergent thinking?
There are several ways to exercise divergent thinking in order to increase our creativity and the ability to analyze conflicts more deeply and with more options when deciding what to do.
For example, some activities we can do to promote this method is to create a list of questions to be able to think and reflect based on them. Concept maps, networks and a free-writing routine may also be possible options for exercising this way of thinking.
Free writing consists of focusing on a particular topic and starting to write about it in a short stipulated time to be able to exercise our conscience.