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39 Types Of Thought Process

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Thought is the process of perceiving and making sense of situations or the world in general. This includes several distinct types and approaches:

Abductive Reasoning

Formulating theories to explain what you observe.

Abstraction

Modeling ideas with concepts that differ from concrete reality.

Analogical Reasoning

Using an analogy to develop understanding and meaning.

Analytic Reasoning

Reasoning based on facts that require no interpretation based on experience.

Backward Induction

Reasoning backwards starting with potential conclusions.

Cognitive Biases

Patterns of thought that lead to suboptimal results such as poor decisions.

Cold Logic

Logic that fails to consider human factors.

Conceptual Thinking

The identification of patterns and abstractions in information.

Conjecture

The ability to guess at theories when information is missing.

Contemplation

Deep reflective thought that involves absolute focus on an idea for an extended period of time.

Convergent Thinking

The process of finding the "correct answer" by following predetermined steps.

Counterfactual Thinking

Thinking about the impossible. For example, thinking about past choices not taken that are now impossible.

Creativity

Thinking that is unique, nonobvious and valuable.

Critical Thinking

Disciplined, systematic thinking that arrives at an opinion, judgment or critique.

Divergent Thinking

The ability to solve problems by considering a large number of solutions in a creative and exploratory way. Often contrasted with convergent thinking.

Emotional Intelligence

The ability to recognize and read emotions in yourself and others and use emotions in a directed way.

Flow

Flow is a state of focus in which a person is absorbed by tasks. Considered important to productivity.

Generalization

The ability to find general theories that explain observations.

Group Cognition

Social thought processes such as conversation, debate and peer review to build and challenge ideas.

Heuristics

Heuristics are practical approximations that aren't guaranteed to be optimal. They can be calculated quickly and are often used to make decisions or react to fast moving situations.

Imagination

The ability to think about things beyond your direct experience or beyond present realities. Allows simulations of ideas to support creativity, decision making, problem solving and prediction.

Inductive Reasoning

A process of formulating theories to explain observations that allows for guesses.

Inference

Inferring new facts from what you know.

Instinct

An innate tendency towards a complex behavior. For example, it has been suggested that people tend to be instinctively curious and social.

Internal Monologue

Thinking in words.

Introspection

The process of examining your own thoughts, emotions and thought processes.

Intuition

The ability to acquire knowledge and make judgments almost instantaneously without conscious thought. Carl Jung defined it as "perception via the unconscious."

Judgement

Judgement is the process of evaluating information to guide actions and decisions.

Logic

Logic is the discipline of valid reasoning. It is essentially a formal approach to rational thought. However, logic has limitations that don't apply to rational thought. For example, some systems of logic can only consider true or false with nothing in between.

Metacognition

Thinking about thinking.

Minds Eye

Visualizing with your mind including both realistic visualizations from memory or imagination and visual abstractions.

Motivated Reasoning

Using logic to support a choice that's primarily driven by motivations such as desires and fears.

Prediction

Conjecture about future events typically supported by experience and information such as trends.

Rational Thought

A state of being reasonable. Often associated with logic. However, rational thought may use natural language, visual abstractions, heuristics and partial truths that go beyond the capabilities of formal logic.

Reasoning

A broad term that includes most types of thinking but excludes emotional thought processes and intuition.

Situational Awareness

Thought processes that deal with fast moving situations such as riding a bicycle. Related to perception, comprehension, judgment, intuition and heuristics.

Social Cognition

The ability to successfully read and navigate social situations.

Speculative Reason

Reason that is theoretical as opposed to practical in nature. Speculative reason includes things such as contemplating philosophy.

Thought Experiment

Testing ideas in your head or on paper without need of acquiring real world data. Often involves either a proof from first principles or use of an analogy.
Next: Examples of Thinking
More about thinking:
Abductive Reasoning
Abstract Thinking
Abstraction
Aesthetics
Analogy
Analysis Paralysis
Analytical Thinking
Anomie
Argument
Argument From Silence
Arrow Of Time
Assertions
Automaticity
Backward Induction
Base Rate Fallacy
Benefit Of Doubt
Big Picture
Brainstorming
Call To Action
Catch 22
Causality
Choice Architecture
Circular Reasoning
Cognition
Cognitive Abilities
Cognitive Biases
Cold Logic
Collective Intelligence
Complexity Bias
Concept
Consciousness
Constructive Criticism
Convergent Thinking
Counterfactual Thinking
Creative Tension
Creeping Normality
Critical Thinking
Culture
Curse Of Knowledge
Decision Fatigue
Decision Framing
Decision Making
Defensive Pessimism
Design Thinking
Divergent Thinking
Educated Guess
Emotional Intelligence
Epic Meaning
Essential Complexity
Excluded Middle
Failure Of Imagination
Fallacies
Fallacy Fallacy
False Analogy
False Balance
False Dichotomy
False Equivalence
First Principles
Formal Logic
Four Causes
Fuzzy Logic
Gambler's Fallacy
Generalization
Golden Hammer
Good Judgement
Grey Area
Groupthink
Heuristics
Hindsight Bias
Hope
Idealism
Ideas
If-By-Whiskey
Illogical Success
Imagination
Independent Thinking
Inductive Reasoning
Inference
Influencing
Informal Logic
Information
Information Cascade
Introspection
Intuition
Inventive Step
Learning
Lifestyle
Logic
Logical Argument
Logical Thinking
Ludic Fallacy
Magical Thinking
Meaning
Mental Experiences
Mental State
Mindset
Misuse of Statistics
Motivated Reasoning
Natural Language
Nirvana Fallacy
Norms
Not Even Wrong
Objective Reason
Objectivity
Opinion
Overthinking
Perception
Personal Values
Perspective
Positive Thinking
Practical Thinking
Pragmatism
Premise
Problem Solving
Proof By Example
Propositional Logic
Prosecutor's Fallacy
Radical Chic
Rational Thought
Realism
Reality
Reason
Reasoning
Red Herring
Reflective Thinking
Reification
Relativism
Salience
Scarcity Mindset
Scientism
Selective Attention
Serendipity
Situational Awareness
Sour Grapes
State Of Mind
Storytelling
Subjectivity
Systems Thinking
Thinking
Thought Experiment
Unknown Unknowns
Visual Thinking
Want To Believe
Whataboutism
Win-Win Thinking
Wishful Thinking
Worldview
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Heuristics

A few common types of heuristic.

Imagination

The definition of imagination with examples.

Intrapersonal

The definition of intrapersonal with examples.

Motivated Reasoning

An overview of motivated reasoning.

Subjectivity

The definition of subjectivity with examples.

Ways Of Thinking

A list of thinking approaches and mindsets.
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