Convergent and divergent production

Convergent and divergent production

Convergent and divergent production are the two types of human response to a set problem that were identified by J.P. Guilford (1967).

Guilford observed that most individuals display a preference for either convergent or divergent thinking. Others observe that most people prefer a convergent closure.[citation needed] As opposed to TRIZ or lateral thinking divergent thinking is not about tools for creativity or thinking, but a way of categorizing what can be observed.


Divergent thinking

According to J.P. Guilford, divergent or "synthetic thinking" is the ability to draw on ideas from across disciplines and fields of inquiry to reach a deeper understanding of the world and one's place in it.

There is a movement in education that maintains divergent thinking might create more resourceful students. Rather than presenting a series of problems for rote memorization or resolution, divergent thinking presents open-ended problems and encourages students to develop their own solutions to problems.

Divergent production is the creative generation of multiple answers to a set problem. For example, find uses for 1 meter lengths of black cotton.

Convergent thinking

Convergent thinking is oriented towards deriving the single best (or correct) answer to a clearly defined question. It emphasizes speed, accuracy, logic, and the like, and focuses on accumulating information, recognizing the familiar, reapplying set techniques, and preserving the already known. It is based on familiarity with what is already known (i.e., knowledge), and is most effective in situations where a ready-made answer exists and needs simply to be recalled from stored information, or worked out from what is already known by applying conventional and logical search, recognition and decision-making strategies.(OWAIS)

Critic of the analytic/dialectic approach

While the observations made in psychology can be used to analyze the thinking of humans, such categories may also lead to oversimplifications and dialectic thinking.

The systematic use of convergent thinking may well lead to what is known as Group think—thus one should probably combine systematic use with critical thinking.

Categorizing thinkers as "divergent" or "convergent" may seem appropriate for the purpose of general analyses.


  • Guilford, J. (1967). The Nature of Human Intelligence.

See also

Nicolas P. Rougier's rendering of the human brain.png Thinking portal

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