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7 Of The Most Common Types of Thinking and How to Identify Yours

7 Of The Most Common Types of Thinking and How to Identify Yours

Did you know that Superman possessed genius-level intelligence and an eidetic memory? He was able to speed read, absorb large amounts of information quickly, and process all this information to the minute detail.

To some extent, we all possess some level of a SuperBrain. But unlike Superman, we don’t possess every possible intelligence; we do however tend to have default type of thinking that we practice daily.

We will look into 7 of the most common types of thinking and help you identify yours.

To find and take advantage of unleashing your super intelligence, we must first explore what your brains default thinking type is. Why is that important you ask? When you identify what type of thinker you are, only then can you make progress in growing your thinking skills.

The mind responds to its programming just like a machine. But the difference between you and a machine is that you have the consciousness to choose what source code you want to input

— Jim Kwik

What Are The Different Types Of Thinking?

There are 7 different types of thinking and thinkers in psychology:

  1. Creative thinking
  2. Analytical thinking
  3. Critical thinking
  4. Concrete thinking
  5. Abstract thinking
  6. Divergent thinking
  7. Convergent thinking

So which thinker are you?

Ever wonder why 2 people equipped with the same knowledge and background may offer different approaches to solving the same problem?
The way one approaches problems and solutions tends to rely a lot on “how” the brain functions in managing and processing information, and a lot less with the facts presented.

The type of thinking style that you’ve adopted to work for you dictates the quality of your outputs, outcomes, and future.

Now let’s get started…

What Are The 7 Most Common Types of Thinking?

1. Creative thinking

An ability to conceive new and innovative ideas by breaking from established thoughts, theories, rules, and procedures. People who use this thinking often hear that they  “think outside the box”.

2. Analytical thinking

An ability to separate a whole into its basic parts in order to examine the parts and their relationships. People with this type of thinking are great problem-solvers and have a structured and methodical way of approaching tasks.

3. Critical thinking

The process of exercising careful evaluation or judgment. Critical thinkers do this in order to determine the authenticity, accuracy, worth, validity, or value of something. Rather than strictly breaking down information into parts, critical thinkers explore other elements that could have impacted conclusions.

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4. Concrete thinking

More often than not, these type of thinkers prefer to think, comprehend and apply factual knowledge. It is about thinking of objects or ideas as specific items, rather than as a theoretical representation of a general concept. It involves practical thinking only, always literal, and to-the-point.

5. Abstract thinking

An ability to relate seemingly random things with each other and make the connections that others find difficult to see. People with this type of thinking pay attention to the hidden meanings behind things relating them to other items, events, or experiences. Abstract thinkers usually can observe things as theories and/or possibilities.

6. Divergent thinking

This mindset takes the path of exploring an infinite number of solutions to find one that is effective. So, instead of starting off with a set number of possibilities and converging on an answer, divergent thinkers go as far and wide as necessary and move outwards in search of the solution.

7. Convergent thinking

A process of combining a finite number of perspectives or ideas to find a single solution. Convergent thinkers will target these possibilities, or converge them inwards, to come up with a solution.
Consider it as a multiple-choice question in an exam. You have four possible answers but only one is right. In order to solve the problem, you would use convergent thinking.

Now, as we explored the 7 most common types of thinking, let us identify your personal thinking style and learn how you can get the most out of it.

Types of Thinking

What Thinking Type Do You Identify With?

We need to understand how our minds work so we can work our minds better.

— Jim Kwik

Would you describe yourself as a logical or a creative person? Are you rational or do you prefer to think in abstract terms?

Research shows that the different types of thinking you’ve adopted influences the kind of person you will become.

Mark Bonchek (Founder and CEO of Shift Thinking) and Elisa Steele (CEO and president of Jive), co-created a nice (and somewhat fun) framework to help you map out your thinking type.

Let’s jump right in…

Thinking Types Framework:

Thinking Types

According to Bonchek and Steele, people tend to have a typical area of focus on Ideas, Process, Action or Relationships, with an orientation of looking towards the big picture or the details.

Below, is a breakdown explanation of how to read the thinking type framework.

Step I – The Focus

For this section, you need to think about where you typically focus most of your thinking on.

Questions to ask yourself are: What’s the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning as you contemplate the day ahead? Do you think about…

  • Problems you need to solve?
  • Plans you need to make?
  • Actions you have to take?
  • People you need to see or manage?

Finding that answer helps identify which of the four key areas you pay the most attention to between ideas, process, action, or relationships?

This isn’t about picking one over the other, but where your “default” focus naturally lands. Just like when you consider watching a movie, do you tend to go for action, romance, drama, or mystery?

Orientation Thinking Type

Step II – The Orientation

The next step is to notice whether your orientation of focus swings toward the micro or the macro — the big picture or the details. A good way to identify this orientation is by thinking about what tends to bother you in meetings.

Questions to ask yourself: Are you more likely to be demotivated when you get dragged into the weeds or when things are too general and not specific enough?

Orientation is broken down as looking at the “Big Picture” or the “Details”:

Big Picture Breakdown (Macro):

  • Explorer thinking is about generating creative ideas.
  • Planner thinking is about designing effective systems.
  • Energizer thinking is about mobilizing people into action.
  • Connector thinking is about building and strengthening relationships.

Details Breakdown (Micro):

  • Expert thinking is about achieving objectivity and insight.
  • Optimizer thinking is about improving productivity and efficiency.
  • Producer thinking is about achieving completion and momentum.
  • Coach thinking is about cultivating people and potential.


There are multiple advantages of knowing how to identify your (or other people’s) thinking type:

  1. You’ll know what motivates you to move and take action.
  2. Why certain types of tasks can be challenging or boring, and what you can do to improve areas that are important for you in reaching your goals.
  3. Develop a better team dynamic with your peers.
  4. Manage people more efficiently.
  5. Become smarter about your personal productively and growth mindset.

Your thinking type becomes a super useful tool — a social currency if you will — one that you can use to your advantage in the future.

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