| John Spacey, March 12, 2016 updated on February 09, 2019
Visual thinking is any mental process that is based on the visual processing capabilities of the mind. This is a common mode of thinking alongside verbal, kinesthetic, musical and mathematical thinking. The following are illustrative examples of visual thinking.
Visual PerceptionVisual experiences such as swimming underwater with swim googles.
Situational AwarenessSituational awareness is the ability to understand and react to fast moving situations in an intelligent way. Visual perception is a key element of situational awareness alongside processing of other senses such as hearing. For example, a quarterback in a football game who needs to know about the location, speed and direction of multiple players over a period of several seconds in order to complete a pass and avoid injury.
MemoryThe ability to bring up visual images of the past. It is believed that the imagination often fills in gaps in these images such that they aren't as accurate as a photograph. Indeed, visual memory is often fuzzy such that images feel fragmented or faded.
RecognitionIt is common for people to remember faces better than names. This is the reason that brand logos and other visual symbols are considered essential elements of communication, marketing and user interface design as visual memory can be more vivid than verbal memory.
VisualizationThe ability to develop imaginative mental images in your mind. For example, picturing landscapes, scenes and characters as you read fiction.
DreamsA dream is a succession of ideas, storylines, emotions and visualizations that occur during certain stages of sleep. Visualizations are a prominent element of dreaming and it is common to visually remember a dream upon waking up. The function of dreams is not well understood with various theories proposing that dreams play a role in memory formation, problem solving or regulating mood.
Visual LearningThe process of understanding information using visual images. For example, looking at a chart of data or experiencing a virtual environment that illustrates concepts.Communicating with visual elements such as a drawing, graph or photo. Verbal communication is often more efficient than visual communication and this is the reason it tends to dominate in areas such as business and education. It is easier to tell someone "I'm from California" than to draw them a picture of the state. However, some ideas are far easier to communicate with visuals or may be impossible or difficult to accurately communicate with words. For example, it is easier to communicate the architecture of a building with a drawing or model than with textual information.
Visual ExpressionExpressing meaning such as culture, stories, ideas, emotions and identity with art, media, film, performance art, fashion and other visualizations.
Spatial ReasoningThe ability to visualize and solve problems involving 2d or 3d space. For example, an astronaut who is able to fit parts together to perform a maintenance procedure in a disorienting and constrained environment.
Spatial MemoryThe ability to remember 2d or 3d space independently of verbal information. For example, a diver who remembers a path through a cave based on visual cues.
AbstractionThe ability to develop visual abstractions such as a visual metaphor that can be used to influence people. For example, scales are often used in art as an metaphor for justice.
Thought ExperimentsUsing visual metaphors as thought experiments that can be used to simplify complex problems. For example, Einstein's thought experiment of a streetcar racing away from a street clock at the speed of light such that time would appear to stand still from the perspective of people on the street car looking back at the clock.
DesignVisualizing a design on paper or in your head. This can include both visual design that obviously lends itself well to visualization and non-visual design such as the design of a computer system, business process or machine.
SimulationThe ability to run through visual simulations in your head. For example, a chess player who can see a chess board in their head such that they can model the possible future states that can result from a move.
Visual ThinkersMost people have both visual and verbal thinking abilities to varying degrees with other types of thinking such as musical thinking playing a secondary role. People who strongly rely on visual thinking or who perform well in areas that require visual thinking such as spatial reasoning are known as visual thinkers.
This is the complete list of articles we have written about thinking.
If you enjoyed this page, please consider bookmarking Simplicable.
An overview of thinking with examples.
The definition of introspection with examples.
An overview of critical thinking with examples.
The definition of skepticism with examples.
The definition of abstract thinking with examples.
The definition of imagination with examples.
The definition of abstract concept with examples.
The definition of realism with examples.
The definition of pragmatism with examples.
A list of thinking approaches and types.
An overview of nostalgia with examples.
The definition of intrapersonal with examples.
The definition of paradox with examples.
The definition of rational choice theory with examples.
The principles of positive thinking.
A list of common emotions.
TrendingThe most popular articles on Simplicable in the past day.
Recent posts or updates on Simplicable.
© 2010-2023 Simplicable. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction of materials found on this site, in any form, without explicit permission is prohibited.
View credits & copyrights or citation information for this page.