We explain what thought is, its characteristics and types. Also, its relationship with language and emotions.

What is thought?

Thought is one of the abstract activities that the mind performs and that consists of forming ideas and representations of reality . The mind is a set of cognitive capacities that allow to develop intelligence and intellect, that is, to learn, reason, perceive, imagine, make decisions and understand reality.

The mind is intangible and arises from the work of neurons found in the brain , an organ that centralizes the activities of the body's nervous system and fulfills various and complex functions. One of them is thought, that is, the ability to form ideas, representations and associations between all of them. The word think derives from Latin and means to compare or estimate.

The ability to think depends on the neural development of each human being and their relationship with the social environment and the environment . For example: Language implies a relationship between thought, motor capacity controlled by the nervous system, language, codes and social customs and the place where the individual develops.

Thought characteristics

Thought characteristics

Among the main characteristics of thought are:

  • It is an abstract activity of the mind.
  • It allows you to create ideas and representations in the mind based on what is perceived in the world through the senses.
  • It is a capacity conditioned by neuronal, physical, motor development, the nervous system, language and the customs of the environment.
  • It is a capacity that can be improved with the practice of mental exercises and with the incorporation of new, increasingly complex content.

Types of thinking

Types of thinking

The main types of thinking are:

  • Analytical or convergent thinking. It is the one that reasonably evaluates, based on concepts or logical premises acquired, each situation in order to obtain conclusions . Analyze every detail of something or an event, categorize it to understand it and to obtain a single logical answer or solution. It is related to language, mathematical calculations and the representation of reality.
  • Creative or divergent thinking. It is the one that creates novel ideas or solutions based on questioning the concepts and premises acquired. By challenging already incorporated or taken for granted knowledge , you can rediscover new or improved concepts. It is oriented towards a different look than what is known, so it is a type of thinking that is unnatural and that can be exercised. The human being tends to relate and associate the elements that he perceives.
  • Inductive thinking. It is a type of reasoning that analyzes, through observation , particular situations to obtain general conclusions that could be a premise, but does not guarantee it. For example: When looking at a lemon tree, it can be seen that when they are green, it means that they have not ripened yet, so they remain on the plant. When they mature, they turn yellow and fall off the tree. Inductive thinking can assume that all the yellow lemons fall from the tree. However, many are kept on the plant even at the level of maturity, so the inductive conclusion is not a guarantee of being a general premise for all lemons.
  • Deductive thinking . It is a type of reasoning that reaches a conclusion after analyzing a set of logical premises or known events. Analyze general situations to obtain particular conclusions. For example: After analyzing dozens of lemon trees it was observed that they can give off their fruits when the lemon turns yellow, although they do not always fall from the tree despite reaching maturity. The deductive conclusion is that not all ripe lemons fall off the plant.
  • Critical or harsh thinking. It is the one that develops as the person is instructed and specializes in a subject, which allows them to obtain a greater possibility of relationships and associations of premises. It is the type of thinking that is required for scientific, technological or research development .
  • Historical thinking. It is a type of linear thinking based on memory , which does not analyze the parts of the information it collects, but its effort is in the accumulation of data.

Thought and language

Thought and language

The action of thinking is linked to the neurological and physical capacities and the influence of a person's environment. Language is a structure made up of linguistic codes that allow expressing the mental images or representations that the individual creates in his mind, of the world that he perceives with his senses.

Language can be a limitation for the creation of ideas or to represent the emotions that a person may experience. For example: The difference in meanings between one language and another implies that sometimes there are words in a certain language, but that they do not have their equivalent meaning or translation in another language.

These differences in meaning between words or linguistic signs can influence the way of thinking and, therefore, of expressing and communicating ideas.

The human being thinks conditioned by the knowledge he acquires. Language is an acquired system that allows thoughts to be expressed and, also, it is through this system that the mind elaborates thoughts. Therefore, language conditions the way of thinking .

To improve the ability to think it is necessary to keep the mind active, for this simple tasks and reasoning or more complex ones can be carried out, such as incorporating new knowledge. Always doing the same thing does not enrich the mind. The effort to assimilate new content means that the mind is training, which will allow it to expand the power of thinking.

Thoughts and emotions

Thoughts and emotions

Sometimes emotions provoke certain thoughts. Other times, the thoughts generate certain emotions. The moment an individual is aware of the emotions that he is experiencing or usually experiences, he recognizes them, identifies them with a name and orders them within a situational context. This process is known as managing emotions or emotional thinking.

Emotional thinking helps maintain good mental health and emotional development, as well as good behavior. Negative thoughts, and excessively, affect emotions and health. For this reason, it is important to encourage positive thoughts and know how to recognize if emotions are caused as a reaction from the environment or by the mind itself loaded with toxic thoughts.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring reliable sources and recommendations from experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.


Luke is passionate about fostering student involvement and connection. He studied psychology for his major and likes learning about the past. Luke aims to specialize in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. .

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