6 Types of Thinking Patterns and What Should Be Yours?

Som Bathla
May 20 · 4 min read

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

Albert Einstein

There are different types of thinking ranging from the simplest form of perceptual thinking to complex critical and system thinking.

But the objective of this post is to help you explore what kind of thinking you do often. This will also give you some perspective about how the people around you think in particular. Let’s briefly understand about the different types of thinking patterns:

1# Perceptual Thinking

This the simplest form of thinking, where you perceive the things based on your own limited number of life experiences. It’s also known as concrete thinking, as you only perceive things that you’ve actually experienced.

Unfortunately, this type of thinking only takes into account one’s own perception of life, and it’s entirely based on own life experiences. You can very well guess that this is a very limiting type of thinking or “in-the-box” thinking.

#2: Conceptual or Abstract thinking

This is comparative a superior version of thinking wherein you consider various other concepts, objects and languages, etc. Since you are thinking beyond your own limited perceptual world, this helps in understanding others’ perspectives and the world in general.

People with this type of thinking are open to exploring different ideas and do not just limit themselves to their own limited life experiences.

#3: Reflective thinking

As the name suggests, this process of thinking involves a deep reflection of past experiences, and one’s knowledge and skills. It is used for solving complex problems.

In this process, you arrange your experiences about a particular situation, your skillset and all relevant facts related to the problem in a logical order and then reflect on the situation holistically.

Reflective thinking is important to avoid hasty and impulse decisions and helps to give your best shot by taking full advantage of whatever knowledge, information, and skillset you possess. You feel confident about decisions made after reflective thinking.

#4: Creative Thinking

This type of thinking involves looking out for new ideas and concepts based on your past learning and life experiences.

It is a fusion of two existing ideas and the formulation of a new concepts, or it could involve using sudden insights or sparks of intuition to enhance experimentation in the real-life situations.

This type of thinking is possible for those who don’t want to limit themselves to logics or reason. Creative thinking is vast and could entail wandering in any direction to acquire new ideas and thoughts.

This is a superior form of thinking, where you are open to exploring and willing to listen to your intuition; thus the possibilities are limitless.

That’s why Einstein said,

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

#5: Critical Thinking

This mode of thinking is all about stepping aside from personal beliefs, presumptions, prejudices, and opinions to sort out your thoughts, discover truths and solve problems. This thinking requires a higher cognitive thinking skill.

Critical thinking is a higher order, well-disciplined thought process, which involves the use of cognitive skills like conceptualization, interpretation, analysis, synthesis and evaluation for arriving at a valid, unbiased judgment.

A critical thinker examines any proposal through the lens of “what could go wrong with this proposal?” and then finds the arguments or solutions to address the challenges that could arise in future.

Therefore critical thinking plays a “devil’s advocate” role and therefore helps you take precautions when necessary.

#6: Non-directed or Associative Thinking

Non-directed or associative thinking is a free flow of thinking in an undirected manner. Here you give wings to your imagination and let it flow. This is non-directed, non-targeted mode of thinking, where you allow your mind to associate thoughts along different lines and allow building new-neuro-connections in your brain to trigger new possibilities.

There is a huge difference between aimless wanderers and associative thinkers.

The aimless wanderer doesn’t intend to derive any benefit from his thinking, whereas people using associative thinking do it purposefully to tap into the unconscious deeper thoughts etched in the long-term memories of our brains and then connect everything to bring creative solutions to any problems.


You would have already realized that while perceptual thinking limits your capability of thinking and makes you thinking based on your own past experience, whereas abstract, creative and non-directed thinking approach enables you to think without boundaries and use your imagination to think better solution for your problems.

At the same time, critical thinking skills, though might seem to be a villain as compared to creative thinking, but it is only critical thinking that empowers you to make holistic decisions based on rational, and logic of left brain and also use imagination and serendipity through our right brains.

Learn more about the effective ways to think better and make smarter decisions in my book INTELLIGENT THINKING

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Som Bathla

Written by

15X Amazon #1 Bestselling Author | Helping people unleash potential and improve their performance | Passionate about hacking personal growth >> amzn.to/33JSrDK

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