Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Creativity, Invention, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

pp 245-250

Convergent Versus Divergent Thinking

  • Kyung Hee KimAffiliated withThe College of William and Mary Email author 
  • , Robert A. PierceAffiliated withChristopher Newport University

Definitions

Convergent and divergent thinking are two poles on a spectrum of cognitive approaches to problems and questions (Duck 1981). On the divergent end, thinking seeks multiple perspectives and multiple possible answers to questions and problems. On the other end of the spectrum, convergent thinking assumes that a question has one right answer and that a problem has a single solution (Kneller 1971). Divergent thinking generally resists the accepted ways of doing things and seeks alternatives. Convergent thinking, the bias of which is to assume that there is a correct way to do things, is inherently conservative; it begins by assuming that the way things have been done is the right way. Divergent thinkers are better at finding additional ideas, whereas convergent thinkers have a more difficult time finding additional ideas. Convergent thinkers run out of ideas before divergent thinkers. However, convergent thinking strengthens the ability to bring closure and to conclude ...

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