Thinking Styles

A thinking style is a characteristic way of processing information. It involves how one acquires knowledge, organizes thoughts, forms views and opinions, applies personal values, solves problems, makes decisions, plans, and expresses oneself to others.

Researchers have identified five distinct styles of thinking. People typically show a marked preference for one of the styles. Here is a brief description of each of the five styles.


Know your thinking style and use it to your best advantage. 1) Synthesists: This may be your thinking style if you

  • are a creative thinker who perceives the world in terms of opposites.
  • tend to be challenging and skeptical, even when there is no clear reason to be.
  • are able to juggle arguments and counterarguments, forming new ideas from the conflict.
  • are given to open argument and confrontation.
  • like to speculate ‘what if?’


2) Idealists: This may your thinking style if you

  • believe in lofty goals and standards.
  • respond to others in an attentive and receptive manner.
  • avoid conflict.
  • take a long view of things.
  • focus on the whole.


3) Pragmatists: This may be your thinking style if you

  • look for immediate results.
  • like to experiment and brainstorm.
  • are good at convincing others of the validity of your ideas.
  • have a willingness to agree with the ideas of others.
  • are creative and innovative.


4) Analysts: This may be your thinking style if you

  • value accuracy, thoroughness, and attention to detail.
  • thrive on data.
  • break problems into their component parts.
  • frequently write lists.
  • value reason and rules.


5) Realists: This may be your thinking style if you

  • like to get right at tasks and get them done.
  • have a high reliance on your senses to learn about the world.
  • like to deal with concrete things rather than abstract concepts.
  • break down complex problems into simpler problems.
  • have a poor tolerance for ambiguity.

Each of the five thinking styles has its own strengths and weaknesses. One is not better than another. The important thing is to understand and accept your thinking style. If you are a Synthesist, you are likely to be the person who solves problems others think of as unsolvable. If you are an Idealist, you are likely to be perceived as a nurturing person. If you are a Pragmatist, you are likely to be willing to take risks and come up with innovative solutions to problems. If you are an Analyst, you are likely seen as a person who can troubleshoot problems. If you are a Realist, you likely are the person who quickly provides practical solutions to problems.

Know your thinking style and use it to your best advantage.