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thinking | Intermediate English

Thinking noun [u] ( opinions ), thinking noun [u] ( use of reason ), translations of thinking.

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Origin of thinking

Other words from thinking, words nearby thinking, words related to thinking, how to use thinking in a sentence.

The thinking was if kids can’t gather for academics, they can’t gather for athletics.

When kids give answers, they are encouraged to explain their thinking .

We use language as one of our major tools for thinking , and it may be that it just isn’t up to every task.

I do a lot of my best thinking just by writing, and I’ve thought deeply about racism in this country, and the impact that it’s having on the country right now.

It’s a safe bet most business leaders don’t stay up at night thinking of Socrates.

While Huckabee is thinking about his run for president, I thought it was time to think about Huckabee.

But the ads are not just intended to remind the Google-curious that Paul exists and is thinking about running for president.

It is hard to feel attached to where you are if you are always thinking of where you have been or where you are going.

Our quest for better leaders—“Change we can believe in”— is wishful thinking .

I was thinking about retiring from modeling, but spending that time with them rekindled that bug.

I do not care very much how you censor or select the reading and talking and thinking of the schoolboy or schoolgirl.

He, with others, thinking the miss-sahib had gone to church, was smoking the hookah of gossip in a neighboring compound.

He desired his secretary to go to the devil, but, thinking better of it, he recalled him as he reached the door.

But you are mistaken in thinking the force west consists of the entire Merrill Horse.

Bernard sat thinking for a long time; at first with a good deal of mortification—at last with a good deal of bitterness.

British Dictionary definitions for thinking

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thinking to solve a problem

What is Thinking? How does Thinking work? (Explained)

Page Contents

What is Thinking?

Thinking is the cognitive process, the use of everything from long-term memory to come to an end or solution to the problem.

In everyday language, we have been using the term “thinking” with a wide variety of meanings. The phrase thinks better means for a more favorable opinion, think twice to reconsider, or think again, think up to invent, contrive plan, etc. Webster’s New World Dictionary (1988) defines the word think, as the general word which means to exercise mental faculties to form ideas arrive at conclusions, etc.

Thinking is also synonymously used with the words reason, cogitate, and reflect. The word reason implies a logical sequence of thought, starting with what is known or assumed and advancing to a definite conclusion through the interference drawn. For example, he reasoned that she would accept the proposal. Cogitate is used sometimes humorously to describe a person who is, or appears to be thinking hard. For example, I was cogitating, not daydreaming. Reflect implies turning one’s thoughts back on a subject, or a series of unbroken thoughts.

Thinking is an incredibly complex process and must difficult concept in psychology to define and explain. Philosopher has argued for a generation about the meaning of thinking. In the field of psychology, thinking refers to the active mental process. Psychologists defined thinking as the manipulation (handle) of the mental representation of information.

A mental representation may take the form of a word, a visual image, a sound, a data any other sensory modality stored in memory. Thinking transforms a particular representation of information into a new and different form, allowing us to answer questions, solve problems or reach goals.

Thinking can be defined in many ways:

Thinking Is A Symbolic Process

Thinking is defined as the memory representations or symbols for a purpose. While executing mental actions and implementing decisions, individuals take the help of visual representations or mental images of persons or objects. The mental images or visual representations may be in the form of past knowledge, understanding of signs, symbols, concepts, ideas, visual pictures, words, languages, numbers, and diagrams rather than the overt activity.

The systematic arousal of symbols helps organize thinking. For example, if we have to carry a large table through a narrow doorway, we rotate a visual image of the table in our mind, determining that the table won’t fit if it is not turned sideways. Davis, S.F., and Palladino (2004) define”thinking as a mental process involving manipulation of information in the form of images or concepts that is inferred from our behavior”.

Thinking Is A Higher Mental Process

Thinking comes under cognitive psychology. Cognitive psychology is a branch of psychology that deals with higher mental processes which examine thinking, knowing and reasoning, problem-solving, decision making, and understanding the world, communicating our thoughts to others, using our memory and current experience. It is only through thinking that we encode, process, store, retrieve and analyze information.

Thinking makes human beings higher organisms than animals. It makes a person capable of winning the Novel prize, exploring the universe, solving complex problems instantly, or mentally be retarded. It is a process that remains until death. People think even in dreams and sleep.

Thinking Is A Sub-Vocal Talking

Thinking is a private process, the inner workings of an individual as well as a mechanical activity of the person. Thinking is neither an activity confined to the head nor directly observable. It involves implicit or inner behavior, mental images, and some slight muscular movements.

We can not think only in verbal and mathematical symbols but also in gestures of the arm, hands, and heads, as well as in a wide variety of expressive movements, such as shrug of the shoulders, arrowed eyebrows, a smile, etc. thus the whole organism is involved in thinking. If we watch children solve a puzzle, we can observe their movements. From these movements, we can determine what they are thinking. Thus, it is called sub-vocal talking.

Thinking Is Fulfilling A Need or Problem Solving

It is always initiated by a problem and ends with its solution. It is evident when we produce new meanings, beliefs, and plans to solve problems or make decisions. Some problems are easy to solve while others require great effort, concentration, patience, and thought. Some may be unsolvable but still, we think. The thinking goes on to trace out the required route to reach the goal, mentally removing obstacles. This process helps to understand the nature of the problem, identify the needed information to solve it, and then generate a list of solutions.

Thinking can be seen in the “aha” (I got the answer) experience when people find the solution to a problem suddenly that had been in their mind for hours or days, later, thus fulfilling the need of an individual. Warren, H.C. and L. Carmichael (1930) define thinking as “it is a symbolic, initiated by a problem or task which the individual is facing, involving some trial and errors but under the directing influence of that problem and ultimately leading to a conclusion or solution of the problem.

Elements of Thought

Thinking uses tools and instruments of various kinds. These are the elements that help to work our thinking effectively. Some of these are mental images, concepts, and propositions.

Mental Images

Mental images are mental pictures of our past experiences. Whenever we think of certain objects or events we visualize them in their absence. Images can be auditory, olfactory, visual, gustatory, cutaneous, or kinesthetic . For example, you can recall the mental pictures of the picnic with your friends where you listened to good music (auditory), enjoyed delicious foods (gustatory), smelled the flower around the picnic spot (olfactory), good sceneries (visual), danced with your friends each other’s hands (cutaneous), and so on.

Mental imagery is greatly used in sports and music. Athletes use them while in a training phase. Sports psychologists have advocated visual imagery as a practice technique to enhance performance in sports and in rehabilitating injuries. Research evidence shows that mental practice can activate brain structure which aids in performance. Thus images help us to plan a course of action if we scan information stored in memory. It also helps on a task for better results.

Although images play an important role in thinking but not all involve images. Images may not be necessary for abstract thinking. Much of it involves the formation and use of concepts.

Concepts are the mental representation of a class of objects, people, events, and things that share common characteristics. e.g. animals, furniture, vegetables, etc. Cauliflower, beans, and cabbages are examples of the concepts of vegetables. Red, green, and white are the concepts of colors. The flower is a concept but an individual flower is not a concept. The word mother is a concept but my mother is not a concept. Similarly, the sun, and moon, are not concepts.

Concepts help to reduce our mental efforts and make communication easier with relative ease. They organize complex phenomena into simpler, easily understandable, and usable categories and help to solve our problems.


Thinking involves languages, percepts, and symbols to give meaning to our thinking process. Propositions describe the mental manipulation of these cognitive skills (languages, mental images, concepts) for meaningful relationships to what we are thinking. Propositions form mental models which guide our knowledge structure with objects places and events of the world around us.

While an incorrect model leads to errors in thinking and inactions. For example, the sentence “I missed you” conveys intimacy between two best friends. If your mental model is wrong about that friend you may think negatively about her/him. This proportion creates a link between our mental processes.

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Charles Fernyhough Ph.D.

What Do We Mean by "Thinking?"

Thinking is an active process intimately connected with language..

Posted  August 16, 2010 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan

The brilliant team at Radiolab have just released a new show. It's called Words , and you can listen to the podcast here . There is also a quite wonderful accompanying video .

I had the pleasure of talking to the team about the role that language plays in the development of children's thinking. In my view, we don't think hard enough about what we mean by this term "thinking." And if we're not clear enough, the age-old question of how language is involved in cognition becomes very messy.

It seems to me that there are two common usages of the term. One holds that thinking is everything that the conscious mind does. That would include perception, mental arithmetic, remembering a phone number, or conjuring up an image of a pink unicorn.

On this definition, thinking simply equates to conscious cognitive processes. I think this definition is too broad, and we make more scientific and philosophical progress if we tighten it up a bit.

People of a psychodynamic persuasion might even want to talk about " unconscious thinking," but I think that makes the term so broad as to be quite useless. Of course, there are tremendously important unconscious cognitive processes shaping the way we make sense of the world, but "thinking" seems to me to be quintessentially conscious.

Let's take Rodin's The Thinker as an example. Here's someone who is more than just conscious. He is struggling with a problem, cognitively trying to get from A to B. One important point about thinking is that it is active ; it is something that we do 1 .

That's why I, following Vygotsky , 2 prefer the active term "thinking" to the passive term "thought." If you like, we can call "thought" the product of the active process of "thinking." But I think that sticking to the active term keeps the special qualities of thinking at the forefront, and that's important for what we have to do.

What about the experience of thinking; what it seems like from the inside? If we could put ourselves in Rodin's character's head, what would we see, hear, and feel? Phenomenology can be misleading here, as it can be throughout psychology. Just because an experience seems to be a certain way, that doesn't mean it's a true guide to what's going on our brains. But it's hard to deny an experience which has, I believe, such a strong subjective character. We know what it is like to be thinkers, and we can usefully talk about it.

I like to use a Hollywood movie as an example here. In the 2000 romcom What Women Want , the character played by Mel Gibson has a freak accident which leads him to be able to read women's minds. I'd ask you to excuse the dodgy gender politics on show here, and focus instead on how the movie-makers portray the process of thinking.

When Gibson tunes into a woman's thought processes, he hears language. He doesn't see pictures or abstract symbols. He hears a voice, one that is supposed to be private, linking together the unsuspecting victim's experience into a verbal stream of consciousness. In comic books, thought bubbles are usually full of words, not pictures. I would hold that this view of thinking is the one that makes the most sense to us, because it is the one that most closely matches our experience.

In the Radiolab show, I suggest that we can get a handle on what thinking is by introspecting on this experience. If we try to imagine an episode when we are doing something that we would intuitively describe as thinking (say, while we're walking to work or soaking in the bathtub), we have a sense of a flow of inner speech. Our thinking has a verbal quality. We feel as though we are talking to ourselves: not all the time, perhaps, but for an important part of it.

(Once again, though, phenomenology might be misleading. It might seem that we have words in our heads when we don't actually. And sometimes, as I'll try to explain, we might have words in our heads which, for the moment, don't sound like words.)

So my narrower definition of "thinking" goes like this. Thinking is conscious and it is active. It is the kind of cognitive process that can make new connections and create meaning. It is dialogic: It has the quality of an internal conversation between different perspectives, although the "give-and-take" quality of external dialogues may not always be immediately obvious. And it is linguistic: verbal for those of us who use spoken language, visual for those of us who use sign language to communicate with others and with ourselves.

So far, so circular. I am claiming that language is necessary for thinking, and then I'm claiming that thinking is defined in terms of its reliance on language. That won't do. But now that we have a slightly clearer sense of what thinking is, we can try to define it in terms of other things that are going on, cognitively and perhaps neurologically. And then we can perhaps make some progress.

I have said that thinking is inner speech. That's a strong claim, and it requires another step to the argument. We usually assume that inner speech is just one homogeneous kind of thing: a flow of words in the head which appear to us, subjectively, like heard language.

I think we need to move beyond this view. I would say instead that there are (at least) two kinds of inner speech, what I have called condensed and expanded . 3 Their existence is implied in Vygotsky's writings, but he never spelled it out quite like this. Understanding why these two kinds of inner speech exist requires us to think about where inner speech comes from: how it develops, and particularly how it is transformed as it changes from external to internal speech.

Vygotsky 2 proposed that this process of transformation involves both semantic and syntactic changes. In a nutshell, the language that is to be internalized becomes abbreviated, so that inner speech becomes a "note-form" version of the external dialogue from which it derives.

In its condensed form, the language that forms inner speech has all of its acoustic properties stripped away, losing the qualities of tone, accent, timbre and pitch that distinguish spoken language. Vygotsky referred to this stage of ultra-abbreviated internal language as "thinking in pure meanings." 2 We see some aspects of this process in action in children's private speech , which can be seen to undergo the same transformational processes as it gradually becomes internalized.

It is this category of abbreviated inner speech that I have called condensed inner speech. In this kind of thinking, we are still using language, but it may not subjectively seem like spoken language (because the acoustic properties of language have been stripped away).

At other times, our thinking takes the form of a second kind of inner speech, expanded inner speech, where subjectively we do experience a full-blown internal dialogue playing out in our minds. We have a sense of participating in a true internal conversation, with one point of view answering another, just like a dialogue spoken aloud between two people.

Together, these two forms of inner speech make up my narrower category of "thinking." In the Radiolab show, Elizabeth Spelke counters by noting that she is often conscious of thoughts that cannot be put into words.

There are at least two reasons why this might be so. Firstly, thinking does not equate to consciousness, so of course, we can be conscious of things we can't express verbally. Secondly, the experience Spelke describes is the one you might have when you are doing condensed inner speech. The thinking is not fully verbally expressible simply because it has not yet been expanded into full, recognisable language.

For Vygotsky, this kind of thinking could be likened to the rain before it falls. He said that thought is like a "cloud shedding a shower of words," 2 only fully expressible when it is converted back into regular language. The rain is there in the cloud, but not yet in the form of raindrops.

In fact, I think we do most of our thinking in condensed inner dialogue, and I believe that it gives our cognition some very special qualities, such as flexibility, creativity , and open-endedness. 4, 5 Our brains have evolved to meet certain very important demands, and many of their functions may be subserved by specially evolved, relatively autonomous systems. (We could call these "modules" in Fodor's sense, but I prefer to think in terms of Spelke's core knowledge systems ; see for example the Spelke & Kinzler [2007] article available through Spelke's website ).

But something needs to stitch the outputs of those systems together. Condensed and expanded inner dialogue are the basis for the internal conversation which allows us to integrate the different things that our brains do. It's this that I call "thinking."

How about Bill Evans? In the Radiolab show, the jazz pianist's beautiful music is used to illustrate a kind of thought that does not involve words. I'm not sure what to make of this musical example.

The first thing to say is that we don't know what's going on in Evans' head as he plays. It seems conceivable to me that he is using condensed inner speech, but my own experience of improvising music also tells me that one's head is usually pretty empty of everything except the music.

Evans was conscious while he played, of course, and he was clearly doing some cognitive work, but that doesn't mean that it's helpful to describe him as thinking. Music is an odd thing, psychologically speaking, and I think it's a mistake to describe it in these terms. Music is like thought, in that it has structure, emotions, and logic, but the analogy only goes so far.

Of course, there are lots of questions remaining. It may be that we will show, through (for example) experimental techniques which can selectively knock out internal language, that language is not involved in all of the integrative, active cognitive processing that I want to call "thinking." I'll write some more in a future post on studies (including one forthcoming from our lab) which show that language does have such a role, but we can sure that the debate will continue for some time yet.

Evidence from the fMRI scanner should continue to shed light on how thinking works, although in our lab we have noted that some such studies have to date been methodologically flawed by faulty conceptions of inner speech. 6 Developmental studies will continue to be relevant, as will research on humans and other animals who do not and have never had language. I have made a strong claim here and it is quite possible that evidence will soon overturn it. But, by thinking more carefully about these important concepts, I still think we will have made progress.

To wrap up, when I say that "very young children don't think," I mean the term in this narrow sense. As anyone who has read this blog or my book 7 will know, I don't doubt for a second that young children have rich, fascinating, conscious mental lives. But, for some purposes at least, they need language to pull it all together.

Thinking is something that takes time to develop. Language and thought have to become integrated. When they are, something very special starts to emerge.

(Even if you don't agree with what I've said here, please do give Radiolab a listen. And consider supporting the show.)

1 Jones, S. R., and Fernyhough, C. (2007). Thought as action: Inner speech, self-monitoring, and auditory verbal hallucinations. Consciousness and Cognition, 16 , 391-399.

2 Vygotsky, L. S. (1987). Thinking and speech. In The Collected Works of L. S. Vygotsky , Vol. 1. New York: Plenum. (Original publication 1934).

3 Fernyhough, C. (2004). Alien voices and inner dialogue: Towards a developmental account of auditory verbal hallucinations. New Ideas in Psychology, 22 , 49-68.

4 Fernyhough, C. (1996). The dialogic mind: A dialogic approach to the higher mental functions. New Ideas in Psychology, 14, 47-62.

5 Fernyhough, C. (2009). Dialogic thinking. In A. Winsler, C. Fernyhough and I. Montero (eds.), Private speech, executive functioning, and the development of verbal self-regulation . Cambridge University Press.

6 Jones, S. R., and Fernyhough, C. (2007). Neural correlates of inner speech and auditory verbal hallucinations: A critical review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 27 , 140-154.

7 Fernyhough, C. (2009), [amazon 1583333975]. (The development of thinking is the subject of Chapter 8.)

Charles Fernyhough Ph.D.

Charles Fernyhough is a professor of psychology at Durham University and the author of The Voices Within: The History and Science of How We Talk to Ourselves.

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thinking meaning of

Psychology Dictionary

noun. mental behavior wherein ideas, pictures, cognitive symbolizations, or other hypothetical components of thought are experienced or manipulated. In this sense, thinking is inclusive of imagining, recalling, solving problems, free association , daydreaming, concept formation , and a variety of other procedures.

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“Think Of” vs “Think About” – Here’s The Difference (+14 Examples)

“Think about” and “think of” are two phrases that many people use interchangeably.

What Is The Difference Between “Think Of” And “Think About”?

On the other hand, when we say we think about something, we don’t necessarily feel anything. It can be about a concern, issue, or anything that may be happening in the present.

Hence, we can say that we will think about a job offer, or we think about how to solve current social issues. You are actively entertaining thoughts and not just memories.

A good rule of thumb is to use “think of” when referring to the past and “think about” when it comes to present and future events.

7 Examples Of How To Use “Think Of” In A Sentence

7 examples of how to use “think about” in a sentence, can “think of” and “think about” ever be used interchangeably.

There are some cases wherein you can use either “think of” or “think about”. This can be when talking about how knowledgeable you are about an idea.

Note, though, that in a deeper analysis, “think of” can still seem like a passing thought, while “think about” means you’re giving time into pondering about the idea.

Is It Ever Correct To Use “Think On”?

If you want a more formal synonym, then you can use “think it over” instead. It’s grammatically correct, and you will be more understood.

Is It “Thinking About You” Or “Thinking Of You”?

The difference between the two is when you ponder about the person. The former is for “just because” moments, and the latter are usually accompanied by events.

Quiz: Have You Mastered The Think Of Vs. Think About Grammar?

Quiz answers, final thoughts.

These differences won’t matter much if you’re in a simple conversation. However, these are very important if you want to write a well-understood writing task.


Thinking about thinking

Annie brookman-byrne.

Metacognition is the ability to think about and regulate one’s own thoughts. Teaching metacognitive strategies can improve learners’ performance at school. This makes it a good, evidence-based target for intervention.

A simplified definition of metacognition is “thinking about thinking”, but metacognition also encompasses the regulation  of these thoughts – the ability to change them. It is a step further than simple awareness of thought processes, incorporating the ability to alter thoughts and behaviours. Explicitly teaching learners strategies for metacognition has been shown to lead to improvements in attainment .

Encouraging metacognition is therefore a relatively straightforward and cheap way to improve learning. The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) describes metacognition approaches as having “consistently high levels of impact”, while acknowledging that they can also be a challenge to implement.

However, we must be cautious not to overstate the impact metacognition can have on learning. Like mindsets , metacognition is sometimes revered as an easy fix, when in fact there are of course many factors affecting learning. Teaching metacognitive strategies can also be challenging for the educator. On the other hand, metacognition is disregarded by some who fear it is simply the latest buzzword in the teaching profession.

Modelling metacognitive strategies through thinking aloud helps students learn techniques

Showing learners examples of metacognitive thinking, through thinking aloud, is one of the key recommendations for enhancing metacognition. There are three key phases in metacognition: planning, monitoring, and evaluation. Each of these phases can be modelled by the teacher or parent who is helping the learner, demonstrating how to approach a problem verbally. This can be done through asking a series of questions .

During the planning phase, before starting on the task, questions address how previous work relates to the current work, how best to start the task at hand, and how the goal can be achieved. The aim here is to increase awareness of different strategies, and to help students choose a strategy and draw on prior work.

“What seems to be important is that metacognitive strategies are taught explicitly and in relation to specific tasks.”

In the monitoring stage, while the task is underway, a teacher might ask whether the current approach is working, and what can be improved, in order to encourage students to change their strategy if necessary. After the task has finished, during the evaluation stage, questions relate to whether or not the goal was reached and what would be better next time.

These are just examples of the kinds of questions that can guide and encourage metacognitive thinking. The EEF website contains many more examples and a detailed description of how they can be used in the classroom. What seems to be important is that metacognitive strategies are taught explicitly and in relation to specific tasks, as opposed to in an abstract manner where learning skills are taught without being applied to real tasks.

“Encouraging metacognition doesn’t require expensive specialist equipment, and is thought to have its biggest impact on disadvantaged students.”

Metacognition is a particularly appealing target for improving learning because it doesn’t require expensive specialist equipment, and is thought to have its biggest impact on disadvantaged students. There is a good evidence base , and there are great resources freely available online to support teachers and parents. If metacognition is the latest buzzword in teaching, then it’s for good reason.

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What is Thinking in Psychology? 7 Different Types of Thinking

The APA Dictionary of Psychology defines thinking as “cognitive behaviour in which ideas, images, mental representations and other such hypothetical elements of thought are experienced or manipulated.” Thinking is both a covert and a symbolic process that allows us to form psychological associations and create models to understand the world. It is considered a covert process seeing as our thoughts, and the processes behind their formation are not directly observable. It is understood as symbolic because thinking operates using mental symbols and representation (“APA Dictionary of Psychology”, n.d.).

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The three primary elements of thought are – concepts, signs/symbols, and brain functions. Concepts are ideas and notions that arise in the mind when we are presented with objects or information. For example, if we were to hear the word “dog”, we would not only think of the animal but also the concepts that the animal represents (loyalty, protection, etc.). Signs and symbols also represent and often substitute actual objects or ideas. A red traffic signal, a danger sign, songs, flags, etc. act as signs/symbols that convey information to our brains. Lastly, and most importantly, the brain is the organ that performs the act of thinking. Objects, language, signs and symbols in our environment, once registered by our sensory organs, are interpreted in the brain to create thoughts.

The ability to think and the reason is what separates the human race from other species, including higher animals. As a species, human beings have an innate need to utilise the information in their environment in order to combat the complex challenges that we face. The way that an individual approaches these problems and seeks solutions depends largely upon the manner in which their brain processes the information that it has been presented with. The various ways in which our brain converts this information into thoughts can be understood as Types of Thinking .

Types of Thinking

Perceptual or concrete thinking.

Perceptual thinking is the simplest form of thinking that primarily utilities our perception – interpretation of the information absorbed by our senses – to create thoughts. It is also alternatively known as concrete thinking because our thoughts reflect our perception of concrete objects, exact interpretations or the literal meaning of language rather than applying other concepts or ideas to decipher the same information.

Conceptual or Abstract Thinking

Conceptual or Abstract thinking refers to an individual’s ability to form thoughts about the information presented to them using complex concepts and ideas. Abstract thinking is a critical aspect of social interactions and communication as it allows individuals to study non-verbal cues, comprehend humour, analogies and other symbolic representations. The ability to think in this manner usually develops in late childhood and adolescence. Abstract thinkers also perform well on standardised intelligence tests.

Reflective Thinking

Reflective thinking is utilised when we are trying to solve complex problems. In order to do so, our brain reorganises all of our experiences pertinent to a specific situation in an attempt to relate experiences and ideas to find viable solutions to the challenges we face. Reflective thinking may therefore be understood as an introspective cognitive process.

Critical Thinking

In the age of social media, when consuming online information, it is imperative that we think critically. When presented with information, we must be wary of the source of the information, its objectivity and its potential impact on readers/viewers, before we form an opinion on the matter. If we were to place blind faith in all of the information coming our way, without questioning its authenticity and intention, we would fail to be critical thinkers and instead become victims of confirmation bias.

Creative Thinking

American psychologist B.F. Skinner defined creative thinking as the ability of an individual to draw new, original, ingenious and unusual inferences from and predictions about their environment. It allows individuals to interpret their surroundings in novel ways and arrive at innovative solutions for the challenges posed by their environment. It is considered to be one of the most important components of one’s cognitive behaviour because it is an entirely internal mental process. Creative Thinking is an integral element in the professional world, especially in the fields of art and science. The ability to think creatively is displayed in all aspects of life, specifically in situations where one needs to think unconventionally in order to solve a problem. Inventors, for example, are the ideal representation of creative thinkers. Inventing something new requires imagination and originality. Conceiving the idea of a washing machine that allowed people to reduce the labour and time consumed in washing clothes manually, is an example of creative thinking.

Divergent and Convergent Thinking

Divergent and convergent thinking are both considered to be types of creative thinking which involve finding solutions to problems by exploring a vast array of ideas and possibilities.

Linear and Non-Linear Thinking

Linear thinking is a type of thinking in which information is processed sequentially; in order. It is necessary when solving problems that require a step-by-step approach wherein there is a clear starting and ending point. Such type of thinking is most utilised in analytical professions. Mathematicians and physicists use linear thinking when deriving or developing new theories or equations about the universe.

The development of thinking requires that individuals be presented with adequate opportunities to participate in healthy and stimulating environments that foster creative, analytical and critical thought. Freedom of thought is imperative to the development of abstract and creative thinking. Such thinking is otherwise stunted in the presence of narrow and unnecessary restrictions. Furthermore, the understanding of language and the concepts that it represents is central to the development of thinking processes. Language is highly symbolic, much like thinking itself. Therefore, we cannot develop complex thoughts if we are unable to decipher symbols and images. It is critical that we ensure language development from a young age because, in the absence of an understanding of language, we are at risk of developing defective thinking patterns that can prove to be detrimental.

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). APA Dictionary of Psychology . American Psychological Association.

Mitrovic, S. (2021, May 4). 7 Of The Most Common Types and How to Identify Yours . Mindvalley Blog. .

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What is critical thinking?

Critical thinking is a kind of thinking in which you question , analyse , interpret ,  evaluate and make a judgement about what you read, hear, say, or write. The term critical comes from the Greek word kritikos meaning “able to judge or discern”. Good critical thinking is about making reliable judgements based on reliable information.

Applying critical thinking does not mean being negative or focusing on faults. It means being able to clarify your thinking so that you can break down a problem or a piece of information, interpret it and use that interpretation to arrive at an informed decision or judgement (for example designing a bridge, responding to an opinion piece or understanding a political motivation).

People who apply critical thinking consistently are said to have a critical thinking mindset, but no one is born this way. These are attributes which are learnt and improved through practice and application.

In the academic context, critical thinking is most commonly associated with arguments. You might be asked to think critically about other people's arguments or create your own. To become a better critical thinker, you therefore need to learn how to:

Critical Thinking diagram which lists the skills: Clarify, Question, Identify, Analyse, Evaluate, and Create

As the image illustrates, critical thinking skills and attributes are interconnected and need to work together for your critical thinking to be effective.

Six key steps to developing your critical thinking skills and mindset View

Examples of critical thinking skills, mindsets and practices.

Below are four examples of critical thinking skills, mindsets and practices. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all critical thinking skills because the skills you use will depend on your specific context.

Questioning skills

How do i apply questioning skills.

How do I apply a questioning mindset?

What does good questioning look like in practice?

Analytical skills

How do i apply analytical skills.

How do I apply an analytical mindset?

What does analysis look like in practice?

Evaluation skills

How do i apply evaluation skills.

How do I apply an evaluation mindset?

What does evaluation look like in practice?

Synthesis skills

How do i apply synthesis skills.

How do I apply a synthesis mindset?

What does synthesis look like in practice?

Taking it further

Clarify your purpose and context.

Clarifying your purpose and context will help you focus your thinking and avoid information overload and distractions.

Question your sources

Learn how to select sources of information that are the most credible, accurate and relevant for your thinking tasks.

Identify arguments

The ability to identify arguments will help you recognise the main points made in your sources.

Analyse sources and arguments

To demonstrate your critical thinking, you need to be able to carefully examine sources, arguments, theories and processes, and explain how they work.

Evaluate the arguments of others

As a critical thinker, you need to be able to evaluate arguments, as well as the claims, evidence and reasoning that comprise them.

Create your own argument

Learn how to bring together evidence, reasoning and claims, and create your own argument.

Your feedback matters

We want to hear from you! Let us know what you found most useful or share your suggestions for improving this resource.

What Is Cognition?

Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

thinking meaning of

Daniel B. Block, MD, is an award-winning, board-certified psychiatrist who operates a private practice in Pennsylvania.

thinking meaning of

Verywell / Laura Porter

Frequently Asked Questions

Cognition is a term referring to the mental processes involved in gaining knowledge and comprehension. Some of the many different cognitive processes include thinking, knowing, remembering, judging, and problem-solving .

These are higher-level functions of the brain and encompass language, imagination, perception, and planning. Cognitive psychology is the field of psychology that investigates how people think and the processes involved in cognition. 

Hot Cognition vs. Cold Cognition

Some split cognition into two categories: hot and cold. Hot cognition refers to mental processes in which emotion plays a role, such as reward-based learning . Conversely, cold cognition refers to mental processes that don't involve feelings or emotions, such as working memory .

History of the Study of Cognition

The study of how humans think dates back to the time of ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle.

Philosophical Origins

Plato's approach to the study of the mind suggested that people understand the world by first identifying basic principles buried deep inside themselves, then using rational thought to create knowledge. This viewpoint was later advocated by philosophers such as Rene Descartes and linguist Noam Chomsky. It is often referred to as rationalism.

Aristotle, on the other hand, believed that people acquire knowledge through their observations of the world around them. Later thinkers such as John Locke and B.F. Skinner also advocated this point of view, which is often referred to as empiricism.

Early Psychology

During the earliest days of psychology—and for the first half of the 20th century—psychology was largely dominated by psychoanalysis , behaviorism , and humanism .

Eventually, a formal field of study devoted solely to the study of cognition emerged as part of the "cognitive revolution" of the 1960s. This field is known as cognitive psychology.

The Emergence of Cognitive Psychology

One of the earliest definitions of cognition was presented in the first textbook on cognitive psychology, which was published in 1967. According to Ulric Neisser, a psychologist and the book's author, cognition is "those processes by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used."

Types of Cognitive Processes

There are many different types of cognitive processes. They include:

What Can Affect Cognition?

It is important to remember that these cognitive processes are complex and often imperfect. Some of the factors that can affect or influence cognition include:

Research indicates that as we age, our cognitive function tends to decline. Age-related cognitive changes include processing things more slowly, finding it harder to recall past events, and a failure to remember information that was once known (such as how to solve a particular math equation or historical information).

Attention Issues

Selective attention is a limited resource, so there are a number of things that can make it difficult to focus on everything in your environment. Attentional blink , for example, happens when you are so focused on one thing that you completely miss something else happening right in front of you.

Cognitive Biases

Cognitive biases are systematic errors in thinking related to how people process and interpret information about the world. Confirmation bias is one common example that involves only paying attention to information that aligns with your existing beliefs while ignoring evidence that doesn't support your views. 

Some studies have connected cognitive function with certain genes. For example, a 2020 study published in Brain Communications found that a person's level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is 30% determined by heritability, can impact the rate of brain neurodegeneration, a condition that ultimately impacts cognitive function.

Memory Limitations

Short-term memory is surprisingly brief, typically lasting just 20 to 30 seconds, whereas long-term memory can be stable and enduring, with memories lasting years and even decades. Memory can also be fragile and fallible. Sometimes we forget and other times we are subject to misinformation effects that may even lead to the formation of false memories .

Uses of Cognition

Cognitive processes affect every aspect of life, from school to work to relationships. Some specific uses for these processes include the following.

Learning New Things

Learning requires being able to take in new information, form new memories, and make connections with other things that you already know. Researchers and educators use their knowledge of these cognitive processes to create instructive materials to help people learn new concepts .

Forming Memories

Memory is a major topic of interest in the field of cognitive psychology. How we remember, what we remember, and what we forget reveal a great deal about how cognitive processes operate.

While people often think of memory as being much like a video camera—carefully recording, cataloging, and storing life events away for later recall—research has found that memory is much more complex.

Making Decisions

Whenever people make any type of a decision, it involves making judgments about things they have processed. This might involve comparing new information to prior knowledge, integrating new information into existing ideas, or even replacing old knowledge with new knowledge before making a choice.

Impact of Cognition

Our cognitive processes have a wide-ranging impact that influences everything from our daily life to our overall health.

Perceiving the World

As you take in sensations from the world around you, the information that you see, hear, taste, touch, and smell must first be transformed into signals that the brain can understand. The perceptual process allows you to take in this sensory information and convert it into a signal that your brain can recognize and act upon.

Forming Impressions

The world is full of an endless number of sensory experiences . To make meaning out of all this incoming information, it is important for the brain to be able to capture the fundamentals. Events are reduced to only the critical concepts and ideas that we need.

Filling in the Gaps

In addition to reducing information to make it more memorable and understandable, people also elaborate on these memories as they reconstruct them. In some cases, this elaboration happens when people are struggling to remember something . When the information cannot be recalled, the brain sometimes fills in the missing data with whatever seems to fit.

Interacting With the World

Cognition involves not only the things that go on inside our heads but also how these thoughts and mental processes influence our actions. Our attention to the world around us, memories of past events, understanding of language, judgments about how the world works, and abilities to solve problems all contribute to how we behave and interact with our surrounding environment.

Tips for Improving Cognition

Cognitive processes are influenced by a range of factors, including genetics and experiences. While you cannot change your genes or age, there are things that you can do to protect and maximize your cognitive abilities:

Thinking is an important component, but cognition also encompasses unconscious and perceptual processes as well. In addition to thinking, cognition involves language, attention, learning, memory, and perception.

Cognition includes all of the conscious and unconscious processes involved in thinking, perceiving, and reasoning. Examples of cognition include paying attention to something in the environment, learning something new, making decisions, processing language, sensing and perceiving environmental stimuli, solving problems, and using memory. 

People utilize cognitive skills to think, learn, recall, and reason. Five important cognitive skills include short-term memory, logic, processing speed, attention, and spatial recognition.

American Psychological Association. Cognition .

Ezebuilo HC. Descartes, Leibniz and Spinoza: A brief survey of rationalism . J App Philos . 2020;18(6):95-118. doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.19692.39043

Sgarbi M.  The Aristotelian Tradition and the Rise of British Empiricism: Logic and Epistemology in the British Isles (1570–1689) .

Lachman R, Lachman J L, Butterfield EC.  Cognitive psychology and information processing: An introduction .

Neisser U.  Cognitive psychology: Classic edition .

Murman D. The impact of age on cognition . Semin Hear . 2015;36(3):111-121. doi:10.1055/s-0035-1555115

Li S, Weinstein G, Zare H, et al. The genetics of circulating BDNF: Towards understanding the role of BDNF in brain structure and function in middle and old ages . Brain Commun . 2020;2(2):fcaa176. doi:10.1093/braincomms/fcaa176

Weinsten Y. How long is short-term memory: Shorter than you might think . Duke Undergraduate Education.

Leding J, Antonio L. Need for cognition and discrepancy detection in the misinformation effect . J Cognitive Psychol . 2019;31(4):409-415. doi:10.1080/20445911.2019.1626400

Scheiter K, Schubert C, Schuler A. Self-regulated learning from illustrated text: Eye movement modelling to support use and regulation of cognitive processes during learning from multimedia . Brit J Educ Psychol . 2017;88(1):80-94. doi:10.1111/bjep.12175

Toppi J, Astolfi L, Risetti M, et al. Different topological properties of EEG-derived networks describe working memory phases as revealed by graph theoretical analysis . Front Hum Neurosci . 2018;11:637. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2017.00637

Mather G. Foundations of sensation and perception .

Sousa D.  How the brain learns .

Houben S, Otgaar H, Roelofs J, Merckelbach H. EMDR and false memories: A response to Lee, de Jongh, and Hase (2019) . Clin Psycholog Sci . 2019;7(3):405-6. doi:10.1177/2167702619830392

Schwarzer R. Self-efficacy: Thought control of action .

Imaoka M, Nakao H, Nakamura M, et al. Effect of multicomponent exercise and nutrition support on the cognitive function of older adults: A randomized controlled trial . Clin Interv Aging . 2019;14:2145-53. doi:10.2147/CIA.S229034

Petroutsatou K, Sifiniadis A. Exploring the consequences of human multitasking in industrial automation projects: A tool to mitigate impacts - Part II . Organiz Techn Manage Construct . 2018;10(1):1770-1777. doi:10.2478/otmcj-2016-0031

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By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

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What Is Critical Thinking? | Definition & Examples

Published on May 30, 2022 by Eoghan Ryan . Revised on November 25, 2022.

Critical thinking is the ability to effectively analyze information and form a judgment .

To think critically, you must be aware of your own biases and assumptions when encountering information, and apply consistent standards when evaluating sources .

Critical thinking skills help you to:

Table of contents

Why is critical thinking important, critical thinking examples, how to think critically, frequently asked questions about critical thinking.

Critical thinking is important for making judgments about sources of information and forming your own arguments. It emphasizes a rational, objective, and self-aware approach that can help you to identify credible sources and strengthen your conclusions.

Critical thinking is important in all disciplines and throughout all stages of the research process . The types of evidence used in the sciences and in the humanities may differ, but critical thinking skills are relevant to both.

In academic writing , critical thinking can help you to determine whether a source:

Outside of academia, critical thinking goes hand in hand with information literacy to help you form opinions rationally and engage independently and critically with popular media.

Critical thinking can help you to identify reliable sources of information that you can cite in your research paper . It can also guide your own research methods and inform your own arguments.

Outside of academia, critical thinking can help you to be aware of both your own and others’ biases and assumptions.

Academic examples

However, when you compare the findings of the study with other current research, you determine that the results seem improbable. You analyze the paper again, consulting the sources it cites.

You notice that the research was funded by the pharmaceutical company that created the treatment. Because of this, you view its results skeptically and determine that more independent research is necessary to confirm or refute them. Example: Poor critical thinking in an academic context You’re researching a paper on the impact wireless technology has had on developing countries that previously did not have large-scale communications infrastructure. You read an article that seems to confirm your hypothesis: the impact is mainly positive. Rather than evaluating the research methodology, you accept the findings uncritically.

Nonacademic examples

However, you decide to compare this review article with consumer reviews on a different site. You find that these reviews are not as positive. Some customers have had problems installing the alarm, and some have noted that it activates for no apparent reason.

You revisit the original review article. You notice that the words “sponsored content” appear in small print under the article title. Based on this, you conclude that the review is advertising and is therefore not an unbiased source. Example: Poor critical thinking in a nonacademic context You support a candidate in an upcoming election. You visit an online news site affiliated with their political party and read an article that criticizes their opponent. The article claims that the opponent is inexperienced in politics. You accept this without evidence, because it fits your preconceptions about the opponent.

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There is no single way to think critically. How you engage with information will depend on the type of source you’re using and the information you need.

However, you can engage with sources in a systematic and critical way by asking certain questions when you encounter information. Like the CRAAP test , these questions focus on the currency , relevance , authority , accuracy , and purpose of a source of information.

When encountering information, ask:

Critical thinking also involves being aware of your own biases, not only those of others. When you make an argument or draw your own conclusions, you can ask similar questions about your own writing:

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

Critical thinking skills include the ability to:

You can assess information and arguments critically by asking certain questions about the source. You can use the CRAAP test , focusing on the currency , relevance , authority , accuracy , and purpose of a source of information.

Ask questions such as:

A credible source should pass the CRAAP test  and follow these guidelines:

Information literacy refers to a broad range of skills, including the ability to find, evaluate, and use sources of information effectively.

Being information literate means that you:

Confirmation bias is the tendency to search, interpret, and recall information in a way that aligns with our pre-existing values, opinions, or beliefs. It refers to the ability to recollect information best when it amplifies what we already believe. Relatedly, we tend to forget information that contradicts our opinions.

Although selective recall is a component of confirmation bias, it should not be confused with recall bias.

On the other hand, recall bias refers to the differences in the ability between study participants to recall past events when self-reporting is used. This difference in accuracy or completeness of recollection is not related to beliefs or opinions. Rather, recall bias relates to other factors, such as the length of the recall period, age, and the characteristics of the disease under investigation.

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Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress

Positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health. Practice overcoming negative self-talk with examples provided.

Is your glass half-empty or half-full? How you answer this age-old question about positive thinking may reflect your outlook on life, your attitude toward yourself, and whether you're optimistic or pessimistic — and it may even affect your health.

Indeed, some studies show that personality traits such as optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being. The positive thinking that usually comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management. And effective stress management is associated with many health benefits. If you tend to be pessimistic, don't despair — you can learn positive thinking skills.

Understanding positive thinking and self-talk

Positive thinking doesn't mean that you ignore life's less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.

Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of lack of information or expectations due to preconceived ideas of what may happen.

If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, your outlook on life is more likely pessimistic. If your thoughts are mostly positive, you're likely an optimist — someone who practices positive thinking.

The health benefits of positive thinking

Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:

It's unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits. One theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body.

It's also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet, and don't smoke or drink alcohol in excess.

Identifying negative thinking

Not sure if your self-talk is positive or negative? Some common forms of negative self-talk include:

Focusing on positive thinking

You can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. The process is simple, but it does take time and practice — you're creating a new habit, after all. Following are some ways to think and behave in a more positive and optimistic way:

Here are some examples of negative self-talk and how you can apply a positive thinking twist to them:

Practicing positive thinking every day

If you tend to have a negative outlook, don't expect to become an optimist overnight. But with practice, eventually your self-talk will contain less self-criticism and more self-acceptance. You may also become less critical of the world around you.

When your state of mind is generally optimistic, you're better able to handle everyday stress in a more constructive way. That ability may contribute to the widely observed health benefits of positive thinking.

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Bonjour! Welcome to our snark sub on faux feminist Saint Meghan and her disciple Woke Prince Harry. We are on Twitter too @SMM_Mod

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What was George V thinking?

I have been meaning to share this blogpost for a while. It gives the historical background regarding the George V letters patent. At the time, male-line great-grandchildren were styled HH Prince/ss. When the letters patent were issued, HH Prince Alistair Arthur of Connaught lost his prince title and became the Earl of Macduff. One of his aunts became Crown Princess of Sweden and the other chose to go from Princess Patricia to Lady Patricia upon her marriage.

Given Charles desire for a slimmed-down monarchy, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were going to be some updated letters patent.

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    1 of 2 noun think· ing ˈthiŋ-kiŋ Synonyms of thinking 1 : the action of using one's mind to produce thoughts 2 a : opinion, judgment I'd like to know your thinking on this b : thought that is characteristic (as of a period, group, or person) the current student thinking on fraternities thinking 2 of 2 adjective


    thinking noun [U] (OPINIONS) the process of forming an opinion or idea about something, or the opinions or ideas formed by this process: I feel that his thinking is outdated in some ways. Several new books have changed my thinking about terrorism. thinking noun [U] (USE OF REASON)


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    thinking / ( ˈθɪŋkɪŋ) / noun opinion or judgment the process of thought adjective (prenominal) using or capable of using intelligent thought thinking people put on one's thinking cap to ponder a matter or problem

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    1 : the action of using your mind to produce ideas, decisions, memories, etc. : the activity of thinking about something Form your own opinions: don't let others do your thinking for you! I've been doing some thinking about this, and I don't think you're right after all. The school's curriculum encourages independent thinking. [+] more examples

  6. 108 Synonyms & Antonyms of THINKING

    thinking 1 of 3 adjective Definition of thinking as in reasoning having the ability to reason it's surprising to find thinking people who believe such nonsense Synonyms & Similar Words Relevance reasoning rational intelligent reasonable logical mental analytic cognitive intellectual practical analytical cerebral brainy highbrow sensible sane

  7. What is Thinking? Definition, Elements, and How It Works?

    Thinking is a private process, the inner workings of an individual as well as a mechanical activity of the person. Thinking is neither an activity confined to the head nor directly observable. It involves implicit or inner behavior, mental images, and some slight muscular movements.

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    noun. mental behavior wherein ideas, pictures, cognitive symbolizations, or other hypothetical components of thought are experienced or manipulated. In this sense, thinking is inclusive of imagining, recalling, solving problems, free association, daydreaming, concept formation, and a variety of other procedures.

  11. Thinking

    thinking ( ˈθɪŋkɪŋ) n 1. opinion or judgment 2. the process of thought adj 3. ( prenominal) using or capable of using intelligent thought: thinking people. 4. put on one's thinking cap to ponder a matter or problem

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    Linear and Non-Linear Thinking. Linear thinking is a type of thinking in which information is processed sequentially; in order. It is necessary when solving problems that require a step-by-step approach wherein there is a clear starting and ending point. Such type of thinking is most utilised in analytical professions.

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