Distinguishing Convergent and Divergent Styles for Creative Thinking

By David Cox

Part of Creative Thinking For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

Convergent and divergent thinking are two broad cognitive styles that are useful for appreciating how you approach creative thinking activities. If you’re a convergent thinker, you’ll tend to take a steady approach to tasks, whereas if you’re a divergent thinker, you can appear more obviously creative, especially when confronted with tasks that require lots of idea generation.

However, convergent thinkers often produce high-quality results through persistence, and divergent thinkers frequently discard a high proportion of ideas generated early on in a task. One style isn’t better than the other – they’re just different strategies.

Convergent Thinking Divergent Thinking
Linear style of thinking Lateral style of thinking
Fact based Eclectic
Solution focus Open ended
Logical approach Stream of thought
Steady idea generation Rapid idea generation
Conventional Unconventional