Technology Paper on Divergent/ Convergent Thinking
Convergent and divergent thinking are different paradigms to critical thinking especially where there is the intention of collaboration within a group setting. Divergent thinking adopts the stance that there are possibly multiple answers to any question and multiple solutions to any problem (Kim and Pierce 245). This makes it easy to brainstorm and provide alternative answers and solutions in case of problems. On the other hand, convergent thinking is based on the argument that each question has only one answer and each problem has only one solution. The impact of such confined thinking is that there is the probability of running out of options prior to finding the solution or answer. The two different thinking strategies have different advantages and disadvantages and research has also shown that the two are connected to different thinking processes and have different outcomes on aspects such as creativity and moods (Chermahini and Homel 636). The present essay discusses the two with the hypothesis that divergent thinking may be more likely to offer the best solutions to problems and the best answers to questions as opposed to convergent thinking.
Convergent thinking has been described as a biased way of thinking. According to a study conducted by Kim and Pierce, convergent thinkers believe that there has to be an acceptable way in which things have to be done (248). They therefore tend to seek solutions from the common ways in which things are done without looking outside the box. This limits their options as they are not allowed to be creative or innovative with their solutions since their thoughts are constrained. This brings about the perception that convergent thinking limits the potential of the thinker and is more likely to result in stress and strain on the thinker. On the other hand, convergent thinking results in the identification of the best and most applicable answer at all times. As opposed to the divergent thinking strategy, convergent thinking leaves no space for ambiguity in solution finding.
A key feature of convergent thinking is that it focuses on logic, speed and accuracy in problem solving (Cropley 394). At all times, the objective of the convergent thinker is to obtain the best solution using the most applicable strategies and in the shortest time possible. The objective of attaining accuracy is often achieved through consideration of past knowledge. The convergent thinker relies on existing solutions and answers and manipulates this to realize the new goals. While doing this, logic has to be applied since from the basis of convergent thinking, there is always a way in which things must be done. This means that any manipulation that has to be done on the existing methods must be accomplished using only the standard procedures (Cropley 398). While this process may hinder creativity and innovation, it is very crucial where time is a constraint as it is achieved in limited time durations. Convergent thinking is thus most applicable in situations where answers are already in existence yet there is need for revision or upgrading the answers.
As opposed to convergent thinking, the divergent thinking process entails consideration of a variety of options for the solution to a problem. In accordance with the study conducted by Chermahini and Pierce, divergent thinking involves free flowing idea creation where options are developed spontaneously. In a divergent thinking set up, multiple plausible solutions are outlined within a relatively short duration. This is then followed by drawing the connection between the available answers and deciding on the best or combination of features that make the answer to be effective. It thus entails a lot of creativity and innovation. Divergent thinking results in the realization of the best answer or in some cases the second best answer to the question (Kim and Pierce 249). As such, it can result in ambiguity. Some of the methods of divergent thinking include free writing and brainstorming where generation of ideas comes before the evaluation of the available ideas.
Divergent thinking at an individual level is often associated with extraversion. Extroverts are considered more capable of carrying out divergent thinking than introverts (Cropley 393). The brainstorming process is favored more by an extraverted mind which is capable of looking outside the confines of conventional methods. Brainstorming, free writing or any other strategy used for idea generation comes at the beginning of the exercise. It is then followed by a more refined process that entails application of probabilities, knowledge and logic in the evaluation of individual ideas to determine their suitability to the question in need of answer. Divergent thinking thus consumes more time in comparison to the convergent thinking process.
Divergent and convergent thinking procedures have to go hand in hand as none of them is effective on their own. For instance, convergent thinking refines the already available answers to find the best solution. This cannot be achieved without brainstorming on the possible methods of refinement. Similarly, divergent thinking cannot come to the most applicable answer without using knowledge and logic as it is a prerequisite in convergent thinking. However, the two are different in their limitations in that convergent thinking leads to constraint of optional answers while divergent thinking results in possible ambiguity and is also time consuming.
Chermahini, Sorghra and Bernhard Homel. Creative mood swings: Divergent and convergent thinking affect mood in opposite ways. Psychology Research 76, 5(2012): 634- 640.
Cropley, Arthur. In Praise of Convergent Thinking. Creativity Research Journal 18, 3(2006): 391–404
Kim, Kyung and Robert Pierce. Convergent Versus Divergent Thinking. Encyclopedia of Creativity, Invention, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 2013: 245- 250.