Thought Process - Definition, 40 Types

What's a thought process? What are the various types of thought processes? Thought is a collection of mental processes that enable humans to make connections between disparate components and comprehend how the world works. Though everyone uses identical cognitive processes, variations in brain activity and function might allow people to have distinct experiences with them.

thought process

What are thought processes?

Thought is a collection of mental processes that enable humans to make connections between disparate components and comprehend how the world works. Though everyone uses identical cognitive processes, variations in brain activity and function might allow people to have distinct experiences with them. In this post, we'll look at what thinking processes are, why they're essential, and 39 different types of thought processes with examples of how they work.

Why are thought processes important?

Thought processes assist us in navigating the environment. They assist us in comprehending human relationships and why individuals act the way they do. We can also use thought processes to better understand ourselves and why we have particular sentiments or preferences. Understanding the overreaching circumstances and constructions in which we all interact can help individuals better connect and communicate with one another by defining and practicing employing these operations.

Types of thought process

People can engage in a variety of cognitive processes, including:

Adductive reasoning

The process of creating ideas to explain what you observe in the world around you is known as adductive reasoning. If you glance outdoors and see the sky is green, you could suspect a tornado is approaching.

thought process


Abstraction is the process of generating ideas and concepts from intangible objects in the real world. Feelings and emotions are instances of abstract concepts. Words like "love," "hate," and "fear" come to mind. While you can define these phrases in various ways—for example, you can love someone because they listen to you vent your frustrations when you're angry—the notions themselves are abstract.

Analogical reasoning

Analogical thinking is the use of analogies to aid in the understanding of concepts or the development of meaning in specific contexts. Consider the following scenario:

Ryan's graduate students need to understand statistical patterns and graphics. They are having trouble grasping the notion, which looks to them to be arbitrary. He compares the statistical graph to a sprinkler system, where each drop appears to fall at random but really follows a carefully calculated formula that can be created by working backward from the provided data.

Analytical reasoning

The technique of working through an issue using facts that do not require interpretation is known as analytical reasoning. Specialists can apply analytical reasoning, for example, while analyzing social media or online data on specific platforms. They are not required to understand the information provided. Instead, they use the information provided to derive conclusions about changes in engagement, site traffic, and other factors.

Backward induction

Backward induction is the process of deducing information from a situation's probable outcomes. When moving new furniture into your house or workplace, for example, you could work backward to figure out how to move it through hallways and doorways to its final destination.

Cognitive biases

Cognitive biases are thinking processes that drive people to make judgments or take actions based on personal preferences that are unjustified. The style of clothing you choose to buy at a store, the person you choose to join your gym class kickball team, the type of food you choose at a buffet, or the first person you talk to in a room full of strangers are all examples.

thought process

Cold logic

Cold logic refers to a way of thinking and making decisions that disregards human elements like emotions and consequences. A CEO, for example, can decide to lay off an entire staff in order to save money without taking into account the employees' sentiments or needs.

Conceptual thinking

The capacity to recognize patterns from given data is known as conceptual thinking. For example, if a detective observes a spike in 911 calls from a certain area every Tuesday between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., he can suspect a trend and pursue additional questioning.


Conjecture is the capacity to make an educated estimate or assumption about a hypothesis without having all of the facts. When viewing new mystery and crime films and television series, regular viewers can engage in speculation. They can make an educated estimate as to who the offender is before seeing all of the evidence.


Contemplation is the act of reflecting on a single concept for a lengthy period of time. For example, if you're deciding whether or not to accept a job offer, you can sit for a few hours and consider the possible advantages, practicalities of changing jobs, or other issues linked to offer acceptance.

Convergent thinking

Convergent thinking is a method of problem-solving that involves following a sequence of stages to arrive at a logical or right solution. Convergent thinking can be demonstrated by solving arithmetic problems. A proper answer to a math issue can often be found by following the correct processes or formulae.

Counterfactual thinking

The practice of considering implausible ideas that can't happen is known as counterfactual thinking. Because you can't alter the past, speculating about how your life or career could have turned out differently if you had made a different option is an example of counterfactual thinking.


The process of generating fresh and original thoughts or ideas is known as creativity. Being creative is a quality that is frequently linked with those who work in artistic fields like graphic design, music, or architecture. Those in business and related professions, on the other hand, can utilize creativity to enhance their companies by inventing new products or procedures.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is a method for assisting people in forming an opinion, critique, or judgment. When evaluating the effectiveness of a new product, product testers or members of focus groups, for example, can use critical thinking.

Divergent thinking

Divergent thinking is the process of devising different methods of execution in order to discover a solution to a problem. Most people consider divergent thinking to be the polar opposite of convergent thinking.

Emotional intelligence

The capacity to perceive and comprehend your own and others' emotions is referred to as emotional intelligence. One example of emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize whether you are pleased, sad, or scared. Another example is detecting frustration or anxiety in a friend or coworker based on their demeanor, tone, or facial expressions.


The process of converting an idea or concept into voice, written words, or symbols that others can understand is known as an explanation. Consider the following scenario:

Ryan's automobile has been making a loud, clanking noise when he turned the key for the last month. The automobile is no longer producing the noise at the shop when he arrives for an inspection. He attempts to describe the noise to his mechanic in words so that they can figure out what's wrong.


Flow is a state of focus in which a person concentrates only on the duties that are required for their project or circumstance. It's a crucial component of boosting productivity and efficiency. To meet deadlines or produce a large amount of content in a short amount of time, a writer or editor can engage in "flow".

Free association

Free association is the technique of swiftly connecting thoughts or concepts without considering why you're doing it. Writers, marketing executives, and others participate in brainstorming sessions in order to generate as many ideas as possible.


When given data from a small number of components, generalization is the capacity to make an assumption about the whole. For example, someone can believe that their favorite sports team will win a game against a rival since they have already won three games against them this season.

Group cognition

The act of engaging in social cognitive processes in which several individuals think and debate topics together is referred to as group cognition. Meetings with coworkers and brainstorming sessions can be great for group cognition.


Heuristics are fast judgments or conclusions that individuals make to assist them to digest a large amount of data or move through a situation quickly. Consider the following scenario:

At work, Ryan is having a lunch break. He walks across the street to the deli and orders the salad lunch special with lemonade. He squints to find a seat as he carries his tray out to the back patio. He picks the only table with an umbrella that is available.


The ability to think about things you haven't seen or things that don't exist is known as imagination. People who create fantasy novels are an example of people who can use their imagination.

Inductive reasoning

The process of developing theories to make educated judgments regarding observations is known as inductive reasoning. For example, if you observe huge muddy rivets in your neighbor's yard, you can infer that an automobile passed through it using inductive reasoning.


The capacity to create an assumption based on the information you already have is known as inference. For example, if you heard on the news that a government official was coming to town to give a speech, you might assume the town's temporary road closures are related to the official's visit.


The act of performing something that comes easily to you without thinking about it is known as instinct. Instincts include picking up a pen with your writing hand or extending your arms to brace for a fall when you're off balance.

Internal monologue

The thoughts you think within your brain but don't say out loud are known as an internal monologue. An internal monologue can be thinking about what you'll prepare for supper today while sitting in your quiet workplace.


Introspection is the process of reflecting on one's own feelings, behaviors, and self-perception. After making an emotionally charged choice or having a chat with a friend or coworker, you can engage in reflection.


The act of knowing something without being explicitly aware of why is known as intuition. Planning, preparation, and safety measures, as well as anticipating someone's next movie, are all instances of intuition.


The process of analyzing information in order to affect your actions and conclusions is known as judgment. When deciding whether or not to trust a colleague or when making a large purchase, you can utilize your judgment.


Logic is a thought process that causes you to consider the many outcomes of a situation and their chances of occurring. When participating in specific forms of thinking, you can utilize logic.


The practice of thinking about thinking is known as metacognition. When studying subjects like psychology, you can participate in metacognition.

Mind's eye

The mind's eye is a way for picturing actual situations or visual abstractions within your thoughts without having to look at them directly. The mind's eye is used to recall prior experiences.

Motivated reasoning

The practice of utilizing logic or an example to justify a choice or decision is known as motivated reasoning. For example, if you refuse to perform something out of fear, you can claim that there is evidence that it isn't safe.


Prediction is the capacity to make an educated prediction about what will happen in the future. Experiences, trends, and other data can be used to back up forecasts.

Rational thought

Being reasonable and contemplating the possibilities of things that can or are likely to happen is the condition of rational cognition.

Situational awareness

Understanding the conditions of a specific scenario as impacted by perception, judgment, or intuition, among other things, is known as situational awareness.

Social cognition

The process of knowing how to participate in social circumstances is known as social cognition. Social cognition might include things like knowing how to act in a business meeting or at a formal dinner party.

Train of thought

The capacity to link disparate thoughts or concepts, even if they appear unconnected, is known as a train of thought.

Common questions

Questions about thought process and more.

What is a cognitive process and cognition?

The mental processes involved in obtaining information and comprehension are referred to as cognition. Thinking, knowing, remembering, judging, and problem-solving are examples of cognitive processes. Language, imagination, perception, and planning are examples of higher-level brain processes.

What's another word for thought process?

Thought process: Noun. Thinking; thought; cerebration; intellection; mentation.

Related sources and resources

thought process

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo,, SparkHire,,, FairyGodBoss,, St. Edwards University, NC State University,, Thrive Global,, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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