3 Modes Of Thinking: Lateral, Divergent, and Convergent

Modes of thinking can be defined as the different approaches your brain can take to process information and solve problems.

Our thoughts aren’t restricted to a single mode. The human brain is equipped with three powerful thinking modes that work together to help us solve problems, learn new things, and be creative.

Following are the 3 common and popular modes of thinking. Let’s understand how each mode is applicable in different situations.

1. Convergent Thinking

Convergent thinking is often used in problem-solving situations where there is a need to find a single correct answer. For example, when taking a multiple-choice test, convergent thinking would be used to select the correct answer from the options provided.

So, what does all of this mean for you? If you find yourself stuck on a problem, it may be helpful to try using convergent thinking to find a single solution. However, if you’re looking to generate new ideas, divergent thinking may be a better approach.

Convergent thinking is a valuable skill to have, but it’s important to remember that there is more than one way to approach a problem or task. By being aware of the different types of thinking, you can open yourself up to new possibilities and solutions.

2. Divergent Thinking

‘Divergent thinking is a thought process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. It is often used in conjunction with its cognitive colleague, convergent thinking, which follows a particular set of logical steps to arrive at one solution, which in some cases is a ‘correct solution. By contrast, divergent thinking typically occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing, ‘

By contrast, divergent thinking generally occurs spontaneously, free-flowing, ‘non-linear’, generating several ideas through emergent cognitive processes. Numerous alternative solutions are investigated quickly, and unexpected connections are made. After the process of divergent thinking is complete, convergent thinking is used to organise and arrange thoughts and information.’

3. Lateral Thinking

‘Lateral thinking is solving problems through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be attainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic.

To grasp lateral thinking, it is important to compare it with critical thinking. Critical thinking is preoccupied with determining the truthfulness of statements and identifying mistakes. Lateral thinking concerns a statement’s or idea’s “movement value.” A person uses lateral thinking to progress from one well-known concept to the generation of new ones.’

Challenges while Thinking

Providing the creative process with a structure and framework to define your ideas is critical. If you attempt to push ahead too quickly without first laying the framework, the breadth and depth of your solutions will suffer.

The first step is to characterise the issue clearly. To convey the challenge succinctly and plainly. Rejecting the first definitions and delving further into the issue will provide bigger rewards in the following phases. The more you know and comprehend the difficulty, the more ideas for the following phase will begin to flow.

It’s also critical to state the issue to comprehend what the remedy may look like. Visualising the sort of solution and the objectives you intend to accomplish is a necessary step towards a solution.

Every act of creativity starts with a question; Why or What-If? By asking several questions, you begin to develop numerous possibilities. This is why optimism and a good attitude are critical at this time, although judgement should be reserved until later. You must spread in all directions without regard for an idea’s legitimacy or prospective efficacy.


These thinking modes are not isolated entities. They work together beautifully. Divergent thinking can generate a flood of ideas, while convergent thinking then helps us evaluate and choose the best one. Lateral thinking can add a twist to either process, leading to unexpected breakthroughs.

By mastering all three modes, we become well-rounded thinkers. We can tackle problems logically, generate creative solutions, and find innovative approaches when needed. So, the next time you face a challenge, remember – the solution might lie in switching your thinking mode!

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Raj Maurya

Raj Maurya is the founder of Digital Gyan. He is a technical content writer on Fiverr and freelancer.com. When not working, he plays Valorant.

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