In this lesson, you will learn to define divergent thinking and be given two examples of divergent thinking that are used in everyday situations. Following the lesson, you will have the opportunity to test your knowledge with a short quiz.
What Is Divergent Thinking?
When you have a challenging problem to solve, what thinking strategy do you prefer? Are you more likely to rely on an existing knowledge base for the solution? Maybe you go with the simplest solution first. Or, you could be the kind of person who prefers to lay all the options out on the table and then decide? In most situations, a solution can be reached using any of these strategies, but they are not all created equal. In this lesson, we are going to focus on one specific thinking strategy that can be used to solve problems: divergent thinking.Divergent thinking refers to a way of solving problems wherein a variety of possible solutions are proposed in an effort to find one that works.
This is in contrast to convergent thinking, which relies on focusing on a finite number of solutions rather than proposing multiple solutions. Divergent thinking takes its name from the idea that a theoretically limitless number of sometimes even unrelated solutions can be generated in an effort to find the best one.Divergent thinking is an important aspect of creative thinking. The creative process doesn’t always take you directly to the best solution but, by encouraging a variety of possible solutions, new ideas are more likely to emerge.
Brainstorming ; Stream of Consciousness
Let’s look at a couple of examples of divergent thinking to help you better understand what it looks like in the real world.Brainstorming is the most well-known problem-solving strategy associated with divergent thinking.
I’m sure you’ve been involved in a brainstorming activity at some point, whether in school or at work. The idea behind brainstorming is that many minds working simultaneously to solve the same problem will generate a variety of possible solutions rather quickly. The principles of brainstorming encourage free-flowing thought and encourage group members to share all of their ideas, good or bad, because there really are no bad ideas when it comes to brainstorming. The goal of brainstorming is to generate as many potential ideas as possible.
Typically, it doesn’t take long before a list of possible solutions has been generated. Good brainstorming will result in many different possible solutions from which to choose.While brainstorming typically employs the efforts of many people, divergent thinking strategies can also be effective while working alone. Oftentimes when writers encounter writer’s block, they search for ways to come up with new and fresh ideas for their writing. Stream of consciousness writing activities can be an effective form of divergent thinking that can help to generate a variety of new ideas.
Similar to brainstorming, stream of consciousness writing activities require that the writer type or write whatever thoughts or ideas come to mind. Again, like brainstorming, there are no wrong answers or bad ideas. The goal of the activity is to generate as many solutions, or in this case, as many words on the page, as possible, which will hopefully result in a host of possible new thoughts and ideas from which to choose.
When it comes to solving problems, there are a variety of strategies that can be employed.
Divergent thinking is one strategy for solving problems. Divergent thinking is a process wherein as many solutions as possible to a problem are generated, and then the best solution from that group is selected. Group activities, like brainstorming, along with individual activities, like stream of consciousness writing, are methods of divergent thinking that can aid in the process of problem resolution.
After you are finished, you should be able to:
- Explain what divergent thinking is and contrast it with convergent thinking
- Discuss how brainstorming works to generate ideas or solutions
- Recall the purpose of stream of consciousness writing