We explain what divergent thinking is and what its objectives are. Also, the origin of this method and how to promote it.
What is Divergent Thinking?
Divergent thinking or lateral thinking is that process or method of thinking that the brain uses to generate creative ideas by exploring all possible solutions on how to face each circumstance.
This process occurs in people spontaneously and quickly, because all ideas are generated in a small amount of time and are usually linked together to speed up the process and draw the possibilities in our minds. In turn, this type of thinking is considered the most traditional, structured and rational.
Divergent thinking stands out as it arises from the stimuli it receives and not from the facts. By having this basis, the possibility of different trajectories and, therefore, different conclusions arises.
To explain it in an even simpler way, we can say that the mind, from a single stimulus (questions or conflictive situations, for example), will give rise to different ideas that will be analyzed to decide which is the most accurate.
Then, this branch of thinking will work together with convergent thinking, which has the function of following a certain number of logical steps in order to reach a conclusion.
Objectives of Divergent Thinking
The main objective of divergent thinking is to be able to analyze the different points of view of the same problem, modify your thinking habits and keep them always changing and, in addition, multiply the number of ideas that we are capable of producing based on a problem. or stimulus that is presented to us.
However, not only by developing divergent thinking will we be able to improve and increase our creativity; It is also necessary to develop mental flexibility.
Origin of Divergent Thinking
Divergent thinking is considered to emerge in the Renaissance and is considered the dominant type of thinking in Modernity, because it is the strategy used by artists, scientists, and politicians alike.
Regarding the use given to it in science, it is essential that this way of thinking is used because it is important that each step carried out in research is analyzed and reviewed in an adequate and detailed manner.
Nowadays, although this method is recognized by specialists, in schools and in any field of education there continues to be a fairly traditional way of teaching and learning. That is, the exercises and problems that they must complete in the different subjects only have a single correct solution and if they find an alternative or different solution to the established one, they are graded with a bad score.
The reason why education is this way is because it was decided to develop the students’ logical deduction capacity. However, in some countries new methods are developed and implemented in schools to encourage the development of divergent thinking and creativity. These new forms of evaluation are intended to increase, and thus reward, the ability to think differently.
Unlike divergent thinking, convergent thinking states that the only way to solve or face a problem is to be guided by certain previously determined steps.
However, defenders of this method are criticized for saying that in this way there will only be one way to solve problems and, therefore, only one way to draw conclusions.
In turn, this method reduces the ability to develop creativity because it limits the possibility of innovating and creating new possible solutions or ideas.
How to promote divergent thinking?
There are various ways to exercise divergent thinking to increase our creativity and the ability to analyze conflicts in a deeper way and with more options when deciding what to do.
For example, some activities that we can do to promote this method is to create a list of questions so we can think and reflect based on them. Concept maps, networks, and a free writing routine may also be possible options to exercise this way of thinking.
Free writing consists of focusing on a particular topic and starting to write about it in a short stipulated time in order to exercise our conscience.